Leaf Wild

I was in London to go to an event that I was invited to, but that was for some mysterious reason cancelled last minute. I did decide to stay in London that night as I drove for hours and I didn’t feel like driving all the way back to the country side. That afternoon on my way to my beloved Portobello Road I drove passed the cafe ‘Wild Leaf’ and I remembered that a few people told me to visit this cafe. So I decided to go there in the morning. It’s located super close to the Ladbroke Grove tube station (basically the opposite of the road). It looks super pretty from the outside and I really like the whole outlook. It looks so inviting, that it makes you want to walk inside. And when you do, you will see that it’s even prettier. I love the way it is all done. Very natural, using lots of natural materials and (light) colours. On the wall behind the counter there is a very nice painted wall decoration. This was made by the talented artist Sophie Glover. It’s a great eye catcher, but at the same time it’s not ‘in your face’. I like that.

The owner of the cafe was lovely and really took the time to tell me all about the cafe. She is an interior designer (like me! ..hence why the place looks so incredible) and used to do projects with her husband who is an architect, but now she is focusing on the cafe. She is vegan herself and her goal for the cafe is to be all vegan too. For now they do have 2 things on the menu that has egg and they serve cow’s milk in beverages. I hope they make the switch quickly, even though at first it might feel scary to do so. Let’s all show them our support and order a latte! Because talking about lattes (they do matcha, charcoal, turmeric & red velvet), they do an ah-mazing matcha latte. It was the best I’ve had. Great taste! The balance is just right, between the bitterness of the matcha and the creaminess of the oat milk (Oatly Barista!). And if you have time, please order some food, because the food is so good. She ordered me the pancakes and I could have a taste of the Mushroom Toast as well. It was good I had the pancakes first, becuase otherwise her breakfast would have been all gone too. It was hard not to eat it all! Definitely go for this option when you feel like a savoury dish. The mushrooms are cooked perfectly and the bread full of seeds (which btw you can buy as a loaf to take home!), with the cream ‘cheese’ and the rocket make a taste explosion in your mouth. Highly recommended! Next time I’m definitely ordering that for myself. Oh en about the pancakes.. they don’t only look incredible, they are incredible! I felt like the portion is exactly right and the cream, the flowers, fresh fruit and the crispiness of the buckwheat all work well together. Every bite was a true treat.

Oh and when you do not have a lot of time, don’t worry, because they do a great grab&go that they are expanding at the moment. They do chia pots and overnight oats already, but they are also going to make grab&go salads. Great news! Because in the weekdays they don’t work with a menu, but they offer a salad bar instead (also take away). I definitely have to try this too, because the veggies come from a sustainable non spray company (uhh yay!). If this isn’t enough, they specialise in juices and smoothies, that are all organic. They also do freshly made kale crisps (made with cashew, sunflower seeds and nutritional yeast) and they have a big range of all vegan cakes and treats. I tried the raspberry cake and it was divine!

I think by now you understand that I’m a big fan of this cafe! But if you aren’t convinced yet, let me tell you this. They are aiming to be zero waste and plastic free! There are some things in (recyclable) plastic now, but it will soon all go into glass jars that will be reusable (the juices are already in reusable glass jars). They use organic wherever they can. This doesn’t mean that just a handful of things are organic, but about 90% of everything they offer is organic! They are all refined sugar free, but instead are making use of coconut sugar and date syrup etc. The food comes on the prettiest bespoke plates and bowls. She designed these herself and are made by Linda Bloomfield (@lindathepotter). So pretty! I really appreciate these kind of details, because it means that there is a lot of passion and creativity involved and this really shows throughout the whole cafe. They do catering, so if you have an event and need great food, I think they are a very good an original choice. And last but definitely not least.. Something that really makes them stand out is that they are all gluten free(!!). So if you have coeliac disease, are intolerant to gluten or you want to eat less gluten, then this is your place to go, because you can order everything they offer.

Now the last thing I didn’t talk about yet, but wanted to write in a separate paragraph is: coffee! Now many of you know that I don’t drink coffee myself, but I know a lot of you do. Another special thing about Leaf Wild is that they serve coffee beans from the brand ‘BrewCoffeePlus’. The owner of this brand actually works in the cafe and has some mad barista skills (I’m sure this is one of the reasons my latte was so amazing) that he’s teaching to the rest of the staff. You can choose between 2 options: ‘PB Handege’ (Forest Fruit, Blackcurrant, Rose Water, Flora and Elderflower) from Kenya and the ‘San Pascual Natural’ (Vanilla, Strawberry Cream, Cherry, Blueberry) from Colombia. As you can see, they are both coffees with fruit notes, so if you are into that, please go an try it out.

Another thing that is handy to know:
They are cashless, so bring your card!

I want to thank Leaf Wild for their hospitality,
service and amazing food/drinks.

WHO? Leaf Wild.
WHERE? 156 Ladbroke Grove, London, W10 5NA.
CUISINE? Very diverse, healthful.
VEGAN? No! (Vegetarian, but almost vegan). 
OVERALL? 8 (Amazing food (!), great service and very lovely ex/interior).
*I would have given them a 9 if they were all vegan. 

Did you know about Leaf Wild already? What was your experience? Or are you planning to go here now? Please tell me about it! You can do this by leaving a comment below, but you can also show me by tagging me on Instagram or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

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No Cheesecake

I can’t believe it, but it is my VANniversary today!! A year ago I was so excited to sleep in my van for the first time and today that is already a year go! It’s crazy how fast time goes. Some people were concerned and thought I might not like it as much, but I knew I would and I was right. I love it! I love my van and I love living in it. I even survived the winter. It only took about 248578 layers of clothing and my little heater to keep me warm (or as warm as possible). Anyway.. I thought it was a reason for cake! Am I right? So ‘cheese’cake it is! My sister lovesss cheesecake, but to be really honest with you, I never had proper cheesecake myself. By the time they got more and more popular I was already vegan. I did have some raw types and some I liked, but most vegan cheesecakes I didn’t like. That is why I never bothered making one. But lately I see some nice vegan cheesecake pictures and then and I got inspired by ‘Wat Eet Je Dan Wel’ (Dutch blogger) who used vegan yogurt. So I looked up a few (vegan and non vegan) recipes, I did some experimenting and after a few tries and fails I created this one and it’s so good! I tried to keep this one classic, but I might do some more experimenting later to make some varieties. Salted caramel, toffee, chocolate or biscoff sounds like a good idea.. for now, it’s vanilla strawberry!

NO CHEESECAKE

Serves: 8

250 gr biscuits (smashed)
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
2 Alpro Greek Style (800 gr)
1/2 cup (brown) sugar
1/4 cup butter
5 tbs vanilla custard powder
1/2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Fresh fruit (optional)

Springform cake tin (20-22 cm)
Electric mixer

-Preheat the oven at 180C.
-Mix the smashed biscuits with the coconut oil.
-Put the biscuit mixture in the bottom of a greased cake tin and use the back of a spoon to divide and push it down. Put it in the fridge for 20 min. 
-Put all the other ingredients in a bowl and use an electric mixer to mix it for about 2-3 min on high speed.
-Pour the mixture on top of the biscuit base and put it in the oven for about 60 min. When the top starts to change colour (golden brown) switch off the oven, open the oven slightly and leave the cake in there for another 20 min.
-Let the cake cool down on the kitchen counter and then put it in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
-Decorate with fresh fruit (sauce).

Hands up if you will make this No Cheesecake to celebrate my vanniversary with me! Show me your results on Instagrams, by tagging me or by using #planetmanel. I might give you a shoutout! Thank you! X

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

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

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

UK – Bristol

A while ago I read that Bristol is a very up coming city when it comes to veganism and that it’s even one of the best cities in the UK for vegan options. Bristol is only an hour drive from where I live most of the time and so I decided to take my van and explore the city. Even though I did take my van, I’m not posting this under ‘Vanlife’, because all I basically used my van for was sleeping. For me Bristol was all about good vegan food, sunshine, beautiful historic buildings and the best views! If you want to know what to do in Bristol and where to eat, please keep reading and I hope I can inspire you to visit this lovely city as well.

I planned to leave on Saturday morning, but as I was a little slow and had to make a stop at Halfords (one of my fuses burned), it was more 14:00 by the time I left. I did some research on Park4Night to figure out where I could best park my van, but when I came to my chosen parking area, it was all full. The second option was the zoo. So I went there next. A lot of people were just leaving the zoo and so there were some free spaces and I found a perfect parking spot next to a beautiful tree. I arrived there just after 15:00 and it turned out that parking after 15:00 is free. Lucky me!

I took the bus to the city centre (bus 8) and there I searched on Happy Cow for a nice vegan restaurant. I decided to walk to ‘Vx’, an all vegan junk food restaurant. Honestly, the picture of a milkshake that included a donut and whipped cream made me go, haha! I only ate 2 apples so far and was quite hungry. I know this isn’t a very healthy thing to do, but I just didn’t take the time to eat a proper meal. It was a lovely walk in the sunshine and Nola and I enjoyed the first proper sights of Bristol. The area where the restaurant is located, is quite dodgy though and I wouldn’t feel safe walking there when it’s dark. I ordered the milkshake, that turned out to be a Vego milkshake.. I mean, can it get any better? I also ordered the Vx burger. If you go for junk food, you should do it right, right? The milkshake was so yum! The donut tasted fresh, the whipped cream delicious and it was really like drinking a vego bar. I think they used coconut milk and I do think that with maybe Oatly Barista it would taste even better. But in their defence, I think everything tastes better with Oatly Barista. The burger was ok. It was a good burger, but not very special. It came with tortilla crisps, but I was too full to eat those and so I took them with me. They have a little shop in the restaurant too,with lots of vegan goodies and I bought some chocolate to take with me to the Netherlands. The people who work in Vx are super nice and the restaurant is very dog friendly. I also would come back again for the milkshake. Only maybe the next time I will invite someone to come with me, so we can share it (I was sooo full and it took me quite a while to finish it). What was a little unfortunate is that I forgot to change shoes and I was wearing my vans. Weird enough, they happen to be my least comfortable shoes. So my feet were hurting and because of all that junk food, I didn’t feel very energetic. I struggled a little to get all the way back to the bus stop, but I made it and I was happy to see my van in the end of the day and to instantly relax. It’s a good thing to have your bed close by all the time.

It was the first night that I was sleeping in my van in a very unfamiliar place. I was so excited, that I didn’t sleep very well, but I was ok the next day. Around 9:00 there were zoo visitors coming into the parking area, but the ticket guys were all guiding them towards the other side first. I was the only one parked up in the back. I got ready and walked up to the guy to buy a ticket. He looked a bit confused, but he did sell me a ticket. Only £4 for a whole day. I’m definitely coming back to this park up. I found a cafe called ‘East Village’ and it was only a short walk. It was a beautiful walk though, with many nice houses, amazing trees and the stunning building of Clifton College. Arriving at ‘East Village’, I fell in love instantly. This is one of the prettiest cafes ever. The ceilings are super high, it feels so spacious and everything is just done well. I felt like staying there the whole day. It’s a vegetarian cafe, but a lot of what they offer is vegan. I was doubting between the savoury waffles or the acai bowl, but then decided on the acai bowl. I wanted to eat lots of healthy things today as I had so much junk food the day before. I also went for a fresh orange juice as that is my favourite! It was one of the prettiest bowls I’ve ever seen. It looked so nice, that I didn’t want to eat it, haha! I obviously did though and it was delicious, exactly what I needed. On the map I saw that there was a park not far from there, with a tower you can climb. So after a lovely slow breakfast I set off again. I swapped my vans for my hiking boots btw. It did look a little ridiculous with the clothes I was wearing, but I didn’t care. Comfy rules!

On my way to the Brandon Hill park I bumped into a zero waste shop: Smaller Footprints. Zero waste shops are popping up everywhere now! It was closed, but I waited 10 min for it to open. It was so nice! The girl who worked there, called Eve, told me that they opened over 5 months ago and that it was going well. We had such a lovely chat. I told her the whole story of Oliver and as she was thinking about van life too, we had a good chat about that too. She was also vegan and so we actually had a lot of things to talk about. We were chatting for quite a while! But after I bought a 2 year supply of dental tabs (no joke) and a new black metal reusable straw, I left. I was so happy that I decided to wear my hiking boots by the way, because Bristol is a lot of hills, going up and down. It was a lovely walk with lots of sunshine and as Brandon Hill park is already quite high up, there was a lovely view over Bristol. I took a little break and then climbed the Cabot Tower. The stairs are very narrow, but it’s very much worth it. I loved the views! It was such a good day as well to enjoy the view. Coming down again, Nola and I relaxed a little in the park, sitting in a rain of blossom and then made our way to ‘Beets n Roots’, to have lunch.

The cafe ‘Beets n Roots’ is all about healthy food. Exactly what I wanted! The only thing is that dogs are not allowed inside. Luckily it was very nice weather and so it was more than ok to sit outside (and they did let me go to the toilet, taking Nola with me). The staff is very friendly and one of the girls even offered to be Nola’s dogsitter. I ordered the Buddha Bowl. They come in 2 sizes. Because I had a biscuit as big as my head for snack (from East Village) a little earlier, I ordered the small buddha bowl with tofu and a coconut water. The food was so so good! There were different kinds of (fermented) salad, cauliflower, quinoa and humous. I didn’t want to over eat, but I could have easily eaten a big bowl of this. Next time! Because I couldn’t sit inside, I couldn’t charge my phone though. Luckily, a little further down the road was a Costa and so I had a tea there whilst my phone was on the charger. When charged sufficiently, I made my way to the very popular suspension bridge.

The Clifton Suspension Bridge was opened in 1864 and has been a toll bridge ever since. They use the money for the bridge’s maintenance. The bridge links Clifton (Bristol) to Leigh Woods (North Somerset). It is super high and very beautiful. I’m not crazy about heights, but I did want to cross it. So I did and even though I found it a little scary, it also gave me an empowered feeling. It gave me a similar feeling as standing in front of a tall building (which is my favourite). Feeling very small and very big at the same time. The sun was starting to go down and I did enjoy the lovely rays on the grass, next to the bridge. I didn’t want to walk too far for dinner, but opening my Happy Cow app, I saw that there was an Indian restaurant, called Thali, with lots of vegan options, a 20 min walk from where I was. I didn’t have Indian food for so long, so I went for it. The restaurants looked rather fun too.

It turned out that Thali was on the corner, only a few buildings down from ‘Smaller Footprints’. So I passed it earlier that day, but I didn’t notice. Probably because I was still buzzing from the positive energy the shop (and Eve) gave me. I was the first customer and even though dogs also weren’t allowed, the waiter who welcomed me let me off (as I promised nobody would notice Nola). After that he got the chef to come and he cuddled Nola and showed her to the rest of the kitchen staff (so far from not being noticed, haha!). It was so hard to choose food here, because there were a lot of vegan options and everything sounded so delicious. Eventually I picked a dish that was made out of little dishes. So it was perfect and it was also very tasty. I really enjoyed it. Together with a flatbread on the side, it cost me about £11, which I thought was a good price as well. I also really liked that it was a modern Indian restaurant. Often I find Indian restaurants a little dusty and dated, but there was a good vibe here.

Just before Nola and I got back to the van, the sun made everything look golden and so Nola and I enjoyed the last sun rays of the day on top of the hill. It was so lovely. Great end of the day. I decided to drive back to work that evening, because my battery only had one more stripe (I’ve got some electrical issues) and it didn’t make sense to only stay the night, drain the battery and then drive back. What a beautiful Easter weekend! I will definitely come back to Bristol.

HOTSPOT LIST:
Vx Junk food bar: 125 East St, BS3 4ER.
East Village: Boyce’s Ave, Clifton, BS8 4AA.
Smaller Footprints: 9 Regent St, BS8 4HW.
Brandon Hill/Cabot Tower: Park St, Bristol BS1 5RR.
Beets n Roots: 39 Cotham Hill, BS6 6JY.
Suspension Bridge: Bridge Rd, Leigh Woods, BS8 3PA.
Thali: 1 Regent St, BS8 4HW.

Have you ever been to Bristol or would you love to go now you read this? Please let me know about your experiences or if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments. You can also tag me in your pictures or use #planetmanel on 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

Pancake Yay

Tuesday it’s national pancake day. A very important day if you’d ask me, haha! Pancakes are so goodddd.. and it doesn’t matter what time of the day you eat them. It’s totally acceptable to eat them for breakfast, for lunch or dinner and even as a snack or dessert! I realised though, that there is no pancake recipe on my blog yet. I don’t know how that happened, but shame on me. So here we go, a delicious, easy to make, basic pancake recipe. This way you can easily add things, so they will turn out exactly the way you like them. Add a pinch of cinnamon or a tbs of cacao powder. Eat them with fresh fruit, raisins and/or maple syrup or simply eat them with some jam (This is my Jam). I like my ones with cinnamon, blueberries and maple syrup. Such a good combination!

PANCAKE YAY

Makes: 12 mini pancakes

1 cup flour
1 tbs (coconut) sugar
1/2 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup oat milk
oil for baking

-Mix all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
-Add anything you like (cinnamon, cacao powder, raisins, fruit..) and mix it in as well.
-Slowly add the oat milk and mix until you have a nice smooth batter.
-Heat some oil in a frying pan on a medium-high fire.
-When the oil is hot, carefully put some batter in the pan with a big spoon (depending on your pan, you can bake 3-4 at the same time).
-When the pancakes are (almost) dry on the top, you can flip them over. They are ready when they have a nice golden colour.
-Do this until the batter is finished.

Did you know it was this easy to make pancakes vegan? And you will be surprised how nice and fluffy they will be. The perfect pancake for any time of the day! Will you make these on pancake day? Don’t forget to share it with me. You can do this by tagging me on instagram or by using #planetmanel. Thank you! X

Thirty

It is true.. I’m 30 now! I still can’t believe it. It’s not like I can’t handle it, it’s more that I just can’t believe that I’m on this earth for 30 years already. Time flies. It makes me feel grateful to have reached this beautiful age, but I’m also living in a midlife crisis for the past 10 years already, haha! I always start overthinking it all and start panicking about everything I didn’t do yet in my life. I’ve got so many plans and there is just so little time. Now and again I just need a reality check though and I do realise I’ve done so much to be grateful for: I saved a pig (very important), started a blog a few years ago, converted a van (+ living in it) and I’m almost finished my nutritionist course. These are 3 things that I really really wanted to do in my life and were all on my bucket list. I can only imagine that, because I’ve done these things, life can only get better. Anyway, I thought it definitely deserved a cake and so I made a double cake for my 30th, with a nice filling in the middle. It’s an easy recipe, but all together it takes bit of time though, because of the cooling dow process. I hope you will love it though, just as much as I do (I’m actually having a piece whilst typing this.. YUM!).

THIRTY

serves: 10-12

cake
2 cups self raising flour
1,5 cup brown sugar
6 tbs cacao powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups yogurt
1 cup sunflower oil
4 tbs maple syrup
splash of milk
oil for greasing

filling
10 medjool dates (soaked)
10 biscoff biscuits
3 tbs coconut milk

buttercream
500 gr butter
1 cup icing sugar
3 tbs cacao powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon

decoration
-1 tbs desiccated coconut
-2 tbs freeze dried rasp/strawberries
-1 tbs Biscoff crumbs

2 cake tins (same size)

-Preheat the oven at 180 C.
-Mix all the wet ingredients in a mixing bowl: yogurt, sunflower oil, maple syrup.
-Mix all the dry ingredients together as well: flour, sugar, cacao powder, cinnamon baking powder.
-Gradually mix in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and add a splash of milk to make it more runny.
-Grease 2 cake tins and divide the mixture in 2, before putting them in the oven for about 30-35 min.
-In the meantime make the filling: put all the ingredients in a kitchen machine and blend until smooth.
-Take the cakes out of the oven and let them cool down completely.
-In the meantime make the buttercream: put all the ingredients in a kitchen machine and blend until smooth.
-Put the filling on one of the cakes and put the other cake on top.
-Cover the whole cake with buttercream, decorate it and put the cake in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

How do you deal with your age? Do you find it hard to get older or can you also be grateful about it? I hope you will celebrate though and maybe even by making this delicious cake. If you do, please tag me on Instagram, so I can give you a shoutout. Thank you! X