Everyone has his or her own perception of ‘veganism’. It is thought almost 500,000 people are vegan in the UK alone – with many more thousands across the world. Lot’s of people recently have been asking if I am a fully fledged vegan now and whilst I am not (I still enjoy eggs, fish, honey and white meats), I have come to understand and enjoy vegan food so much more. The dictionary states a vegan is a person who does not eat or use animal products – and whilst this is true, there are so many layers to this meaning and different types of vegans. I am not a full time vegan, but I eat so many vegan dishes and have been astonished at how amazing the flavours can be. Jamie Oliver’s vegan shepherd’s pie is just to die for!! Not to mention the vegetable curries, salads and stews I’ve added to my recipe repertoire.

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Jamie’s vegan shepherds pie.. uh-mazing!!

But what does ‘vegan’ really mean and is it for you?! I’ve put together a (objective!) list of ten things to know about veganism – the good, the bad and the ugly.

  1. There are three main reasons people choose to go vegan. The primary reason often originates from opinions on ethics of animal sourced products and the belief that animals should live freely without human interference.
  2. The second reason for choosing the vegan life is for health reasons. Studies have shown that eating animal fats and proteins increases a person’s risk of developing certain cancers, heart disease and a number of other illnesses. Eating vegan is also a 100% cholesterol free diet – which is a great pro if you want to lower your cholesterol. With the rise in clean eating and prominent food bloggers releasing delicious vegetable alternatives, you don’t have to look far to see the benefit people are feeling.
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    Vegan matcha latte – so natural and delicious!

  3. The third reason is going vegan is actually incredibly good for the environment. Livestock farming takes up a huge amount of resources, including land, fertilizer and water. It is thought a significant amount of pollution in groundwater and rivers is from animal waste from farms and many argue that more people could be fed globally from the land if we were all vegan.
  4. Veganism often encompasses more than just what you eat, it comes down to the products you use too. Veganism isn’t just what you eat; it can be an entire lifestyle choice. Vegans will look for cosmetics and toiletries that are vegan, organic and haven’t been tested on animals.
  5. You can easily tweak meals to make them vegan! There are so many alternative recipes out there, so you can still cook your favourites for you and your family. Try a vegetable filled stir fry with garlic, ginger and chilli on rice noodles – or replace your meaty spaghetti Bolognese with quorn. Try replacing your morning fry up with avocado, toast, tomatoes and grilled mushrooms or whizz up a refreshing smoothie. So many possibilities!
6. Going vegan can actually be very cost effective. If you go back through your food shop receipts, you will notice that meat and milk based products are the most expensive. Reducing this cost may give you more money to spend on other things – perhaps a little treat!
7. Most restaurants do vegan alternatives – either marked on the menu itself or you can enquire with the staff. With the growing number of vegan, you’ll be surprised what is on offer when eating out. ALL of the below is vegan from various cafes and restaurants!
8. Vegans don’t eat honey – and also many gummy sweets, due to the gelatine content!
9. It’s vital to make sure you’re making up for the lost nutritional content when going vegan. Read up and find the vegan friendly products than contain the following: iron, amino acids, vitamin D, vitamin A, omega 3 and vitamin B12. Lacking in any of these could have serious impacts to your health.
10. Albert Einstein was a vegan. Yes, Albert was a vegan! He famously said ‘nothing will benefit health or increase chances of survival on earth as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.’ Now there’s something to chew on…!
 
Whilst it is a lot to go wholly vegan overnight – I would actively encourage you to explore some vegan options. Think how many fruit and vegetable you could pack into your body, in just one portion! img_1729
 
 
 

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The festive season is the perfect chance to try some new treats and goodies – and this spiced cookie recipe is a total winner. They are completely gluten free, sugar free AND vegan too! I promise they do actually taste delicious. These will keep in an airtight container for up to a week, so they make a perfect Christmas offering at a party. Pop them in a festive box as a little present – or keep them for yourself… just try not to eat them all at once!
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Ingredients:
200g ground almonds
180g rice flour
95ml maple syrup
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
Some icing to decorate! I used pre made tube icing from a regular supermarket 
Equipment
Mixing bowl
Wooden spoon
Rolling pin
Weighing scales
Sieve
Baking trays
Baking parchment
Fun or festive cookie cutters
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Method

  1. Pre heat the oven at 180C and cover a couple of baking trays with baking parchment.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a bowl, ass 100ml water and mix into a sticky dough forms. Make sure you sieve the flour!
  3. Cover a worktop and a rolling pin with rice flour and get your dough mixture onto the surface. Roll out into a 1-2cm thickness and completely smooth.
  4. Use your chosen cutter to cut as many cookies as you can from the mixture and place on your baking tray.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Check around 15 minutes and leave for longer if needed.
  6. When baked, remove from oven and leave on baking tray until cool.
  7. Now time to get creative! Decorate with your desired pattern and let the icing set.
  8. Enjoy with a hot drink! Perfect dipped in hot chocolate – yum!!

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Since the reintroduction phase of food after the liquid diet, I’ve managed to remain on a fairly even keel with regards to what I can and cannot tolerate.

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Delicious coupled with a chocolate shake!

Randomly and inexplicably, I recently discovered that oats are not my friend, which really messed up my morning porridge routine. I tried quinoa flakes instead and again, these weren’t easily tolerated. With a weird fear of these grains, I went on the hunt for an easy on the stomach alternative that would still fill my porridge void. Enter rice flakes! I haven’t come across many recipes which include these lovely morsels but they are so warming and simple.

This recipe brings together some delicious textures for your morning breakfast!

Ingredients (Serves 1)

For the porridge:

 50g rice flakes

250ml of almond milk – or any other plant based milk

Toppings:

Cinnamon

Date syrup (honey also works)

Banana/nuts/raisins/sunflower seeds

Method

Simply put your rice flakes and milk in a bowl and mix together. Put in a microwave for 2 minutes, until mixture is piping hot. Now leave your porridge to stand for 2 minutes – you will notice the mixture starts to thicken. Leave until desired thickness is achieved and sprinkle cinnamon over the top. Arrange your sliced banana/nuts/raisins/seeds over the porridge and then squeeze over date syrup.

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Yummmmm

Tuck in!

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I have been absent from A Belly Full for over a month now and for that I am sorry – but `I promise it was post worthy! Sometimes it’s healthy to get away from the daily grind and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I spent two amazing weeks exploring

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Cuddling elephants at Elephant Safari Park, Ubud

Bali with my two best friends and it was the ultimate trip of a lifetime. I travelled across the world to drink in pool bars, hike through jungles, learn all about the Hindu way of life  go white water rafting, cuddle elephants and so much more (including a squat toilet… that was a whole adventure in itself)! AND of course I couldn’t leave Indonesia without learning how to cook some of their traditional dishes which I can’t wait to share with you.
 
I have so many tips and tricks for travelling around this beautiful country which I will share with you in instalments (I literally feel like I could ramble for pages). We visited Seminyak, Ubud, Gilli T and Gilli Air – but there is still so much we didn’t get to see! Which obviously means I have to go back. Right now I just want to share three of my absolute highlights with you, so you just get a snapshot of my two weeks living the Balinese life (well, kind of…)
Exploring the North
On our third day of the holiday, we took a day trip to the North of the island (we were staying in the south, in Seminyak). We had an incredible personal taxi driver – Mano Tours – who
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The views of Tanah Lot Temple

picked us up from our hotel in a cool air conditioning SUV, literally perfect in the sweltering hot weather! We paid around 1,000,000 Indonesian rupiahs for the day, which works out at about £20 each – which is EXTREMELY good value for what we got! We had already agreed some desired destinations and our first stop was the Tanah Lot Temple in Tabanan (this was en route to the north, on the south west of the island). The views were incredible and we started to get an idea of the rich Hindu culture in Bali. Tanah Lot means “Land Sea” in the Balinese  language and the temple sits on a large offshore rock which has been shaped continuously over the years by the ocean tide. We went early morning so didn’t see the views at sunset, but the tour guide told us hundreds flocked to the sight every evening to see the sun sink below the temple.
 
We then travelled further north to visit Pura Taman Ayunand (The Royal Temple) and then even fu
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Three english roses outside The Royal Temple

rther north to reach the mountainous area and the Ulun Danu Bratan Temple – one of the most famous tourist temples in the country. All three were gorgeous and it was fascinating to learn about the worship and ceremonial practices of the Balinese culture. As we drove through the landscape, the tour guide told us most Balinese people originate from small villages outside the main tourist spots (Seminyak, Ubud, Kuta etc) and often live and work in their village throughout their lifetime. Some families own rice paddies or farms, whilst other men work in construction. The women often stay at home and cook, clean and look after the family. Many young Balinese children grow up to move to Ubud and work in hospitality – yet tradition states the youngest son must stay in the village to look after the family. Our tour guide says this doesn’t always happen these days – in fact he had earnt enough money to pay for his parents house in the village.
 
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Ulan Danu Bratan Temple

After the temples we visited the most amazing waterfall – a first for me!! We trekked down around 500 steps into the jungle to get down to reach Nungnung waterfall (it was SUCH hard work on the legs) – but the view was 100% worth it.
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What a natural beauty. (I mean the waterfall – not me)

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We also took a moment to appreciate the tranquility of the jungle

To finish off the day we took a dip in the Banjar Holy Hot Springs right in the north of Bali , where we cleansed our souls and relaxed in the warm water surrounded by the jungle. It was a three hour car trip back to our hotel in Seminyak, but it was amazing to see so much of northern Bali without taking a chunk out of our trip.
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Soul cleansing in the Holy Hot Spring

Mount Batur
We booked the Mount Batur trek before we travelled to Bali and I have to say – I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy it that much. Mount Batur is an active volcano located in the north west and is famous for its gorgeous sunrise views. When my friend told me we had to be picked up at 2AM for the sunrise climb, you can only imagine my dismay (as someone who values sleep more highly than actually being awake!!) We were picked up from our hotel in the end at 2.30am and took an hour ride to the base of Mount Batur. We were then faced with the two hour climb through pitch black jungle to reach the sunrise point at the top… I know, I’m really selling it right? Once we pulled up at the bottom of Batur we were greeted by our personal tour guide – who equipped us with head torches and walking sticks. And that was it – off we went. In pitch black. It was surprisingly steep in places and often we had to stop to catch our breath – and for the lovely tour guide to offer us a snack from his backpack! The rocky terrain was hard to navigate at times, but wherever you looked, there were teams of other tourists powering up the route to reach the viewing point for sunrise. We reached the summit just before the sun began to rise and we were able to sit on a bench which looked over the entire Lake Batur.
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Breathtaking

The view when the sun began to peak over the horizon was breathtaking – and even more so when the sun started beaming over. We were lucky to have a day when there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the view stretched on for eternity.
If that view wasn’t enough, we then were able toimg_4971-1 get up close and personal with some mountain monkeys, who certainly were not afraid to pitch a hat or two!We also felt the steam as it still spiralled out of the active volcano and saw a sacred cave where Hindu ceremonies often take place. The whole experience was incredible – if not completely shattering! It’s safe to say the rest of the day was dedicated to napping and/or sunbathing!
Gili Islands
After spending one week on mainland Bali, we travelled to the Gili Islands, which are part of a neighbouring Indonesian island called Lombok. Our time in the Gilis was the ultimate chill time – spending four days on Gili Trawangan and two days on Gili Air. Despite the islands being more built up for tourists than I initially imagined, the vibe was very relaxed and the pace was much slower to that of Bali. It was a shock at first to be woken by the regular calls to prayer (unlike Bali, Lombok is a Muslim country), we settled into the routine of eat, sunbath, sleep, repeat and our highlight of the day became walking to the north of the island to watch the sunset.
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The famous Gili  T swinging into the sunset!

I was absolutely over the moon to finish off our trip with a cooking class in Gili Air after enjoying so much Indonesian cuisine (have yet to cook myself up a Nasi Goreng since being home, the most traditional Indonesian dish!) We cooked up four dishes at the Gili Cooking Classes, including some unique Lombok sweets, a classic satay sauce, traditional fried noodles and a yellow chicken curry.
Look out for a more detailed blog on this and some alterations so you can make these dishes at home!
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Cooking up a storm

This post is really only giving you a flavour of what I experienced in Bali and I’m really excited to share more in depth posts on each place we visited so keep your eyes peeled. I haven’t even touched on the elephants, white water rafting or markets! What I have learnt since being away is the soul and the mind needs a break – seeing the world whilst doing it is just an awesome bonus.
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