Meat Free Monday: Winter Vegetable Hominy Hash En Croute

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I hope everyone is having a lovely break – I really do love this time of year, I think it’s great to catch up with family and friends, but it also gives you some breathing space from the usual every day stuff.

I made this bake because I had more time than usual! Also, I actually ate this on Christmas day, but I’ve been slowly getting through it since then 🙂

I used this recipe from Thug Kitchen – it’s not too complicated, although I did have to specifically buy a couple of ingredients (tempeh, hominy corn).

It did smell amazing when it was all mixing together, but I was a little doubtful that it’d be good enough for Christmas… I was wrong! It’s so tasty and wayy better than dry turkey.

Also, tempeh is hard to get hold of (at least in the UK), but it’s worth it – the texture is amazing, a lot better than tofu. It held together so well and absorbed the other flavours.

This dish takes a bit more effort than most of the other meat free meals I’ve posted on here, but it’s definitely worth it! It also reheated fine in the oven for a few minutes so it’s lasted me a few days.

This is the last meat free meal of this year! I’m so happy that I managed to keep this up, and I hope it’s inspired some people to take a step out of their comfort zone towards reducing meat consumption.

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Favourite Fairtrade Brands

In case you didn’t know, it’s Fairtrade Fortnight (23rd February – 8th March)! The definition of Fairtrade is this: ‘Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers’, but I think it’s more than that.

Fairtrade is the start of a conversation about how unethical our rampant consumerism has become. The current trade system is unsustainable (for both the planet and the people working in it), so Fairtrade offers an option for consumers to buy without feeling guilty for supporting that system.

I don’t think it’s a long term solution, but it’s a start! Therefore, I often try to look for the Fairtrade Symbol or WFTO symbol; any product can claim to be ‘fair’ or ‘ethical’ but the mark means it’s been judged by an independent party to be truly fair.

(Side Note: WFTO is actually better than the normal Fairtrade symbol – it means the whole brand, rather than just one product, follows the Fairtrade philosophy eg. Nestle can get the KitKat branded as Fairtrade by switching their cocoa suppliers, but they wouldn’t be able to be certified by WFTO as the company benefits from constantly undercutting suppliers – a big no no!)

Here are a few of my favourite brands that follow the Fairtrade philosophy, and have been certified accordingly:

– Divine Chocolate (aka chocolate of the gods) – this just tastes so good. It’s mostly owned by the farmers themselves, and they’ve got loads of interesting flavour combinations that make it a bit different from the usual ethical chocolate bars! They also do Easter Eggs 😀

People Tree – this is another well known brand for how ethical it is and the clothes they make are so classic that you’ll keep them for years. The prices are a bit steep, but they have some really great deals in their sale section (in fact I think I’ll treat myself to this – also WFTO certified!).

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Shared Earth – a great find for home accessories, this is the brand I got my A-Z bookends from. I hadn’t heard of them before, but they do have a great selection – the recycled materials are especially interesting!

There are many more of course! Leave your favourites in the comments below – I’d love to discover different ones 🙂

Morning (Ethical) Skincare Routine

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Continuing with my ‘ethical beauty’ series, these are my everyday skincare products I use in the morning. My skin is currently transitioning from combination (oily t-zone with normal cheeks) to more ‘normal’ overall so this is likely to change in the next 6 months, but this is the current routine! I know there are so many products I could use but I don’t want to overload my skin, so I usually limit it to these 3:

1. Rejuvenating Facial Wash £6.25 – I’ve already talked about the Faith in Nature brand before, but it really is great; Ethical Consumer ranks it really highly compared to other skincare brands. This face wash is great as it’s not too drying but really wakes me up in the morning! It’s also easy to use in the shower as the pump means you won’t get water leaking into it. This is a gentle cleanser, which I prefer as I dislike the feeling of my skin being stripped by stronger cleansers.

2. Tea Tree Toner £7.95 – Lush is one of my favourite brands (as I’ve gone on about in previous posts!) and the Good Shopping Guide rates it in the top 10 for skincare. This toner water is really refreshing and I like the spray application – again it wakes me up in the morning! This is great for preventing spots as it’s anti-bacterial and any spots you do have seem to calm a little.

3. Moisturiser (Enzymion) £14.50 – another Lush product; this one is aimed at combination skin which was perfect a few months ago. It rebalances and mattifies, but I think my skin needs a little more moisture as it becomes more ‘normal’. I’ll probably be changing this soon but it is a great moisturiser for anyone with oily/combination skin!

(Vegan) Chocolate Madness!

A bit of pre-Valentine’s Day Sweetness in the form of cake and hot chocolate! These were fairly easy and use ingredients you’ll find in your local supermarket 🙂

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Yes, this is an instagrammed photo!

First off is this rich, squishy, gorgeous (vegan) chocolate Oreo cake. We mainly followed this recipe, but instead of decorating the top with whole Oreos we mixed them into the icing and we also found that leaving it overnight in the fridge made it a lot easier to slice! It is quite rich so you only need a small portion – you could also add cream and it becomes a dessert!

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I used a photo of the ingredients as the actual drink doesn’t look super pretty!

Since I watched Vegucated (discussed here), I’ve been looking into dairy alternatives – I used almond milk for the cake so decided to try using it to make hot chocolate. I’m using an unsweetened version so added maple syrup to sweeten and vanilla essence to cover up the nutty taste a little! I used Green and Black’s Cocoa Powder because it’s a lot stronger than other cheaper brands, and it’s also organic and Fairtrade.

All you need to do is measure a mug of almond milk and heat it in a small saucepan, then add a teaspoon of the cocoa and mix. Next, add a little maple syrup and vanilla essence. Taste it to see what you want to add more of – I love vanilla so added a bit more of that, and half a teaspoon of extra cocoa powder to make it richer. It still has a nutty underlying taste, but it’s not a bad thing at all!

Ethical Beauty Basics

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This is the first blog post in an ‘Ethical Beauty’ series in which I’ll post photos of products that I use and explain their benefits to yourself, the environment and other people.

1. Faith in Nature Roll-on Deodorant (unisex) £4.15 – aluminium free (aluminium has been linked to cancer when absorbed into the skin), no animal testing, vegan ingredients, made in the UK and it’s in the top 3 deodorant brands according to Ethical Consumer. I’ve been using this for the past month and have no complaints! It’s not an anti-perspirant, so you will still sweat but it smells good and is better for you than having blocked pores.

2. Kingfisher Toothpaste £2.85 – vegan ingredients, no animal testing and it’s a recommended brand according to the Good Shopping Guide. I’ve been using this for the same amount of time and again have no complaints – it tastes slightly different to other mint toothpastes, but this isn’t unpleasant.

3. Wilkinson Sword Hydro Silk Razor £4.99 (on offer – usually £9.99) – this is probably the most surprising product, but according to the Ethical Consumer, this brand is the best high street option. This is also the type of razor that I can just replace the heads, therefore less plastic is being thrown away! The most eco-friendly way to remove unwanted hair is by waxing, however I am a wimp and can’t deal with the pain from that! So for any other wimps like me, this is the best option we have.

My next Ethical Beauty post will be about hair care, see you then!

 

Thrifted Party Dresses

‘Tis the season of parties!

This often means having to buy multiple outfits which is hard on your pocket and on the environment. A solution to this is buying second hand.

I really discovered ebay when I started university – I started buying second hand clothes then, and more recently I’ve used it for all my ‘event clothing’ (e.g. clothes I’ll probably only wear once or twice).The four dresses below are ones I’ve bought in the past year from ebay – the far left one is for a party I’m attending tomorrow night and was originally from Debenhams; it’s all sparkly and festive! The red one is originally from Asos and I wore it to a Christmas work party and plan to wear it on Christmas day too (the lace sleeves are gorgeous). The grey one is originally from H&M and I actually had to have it altered slightly, but it ended up looking great for my end of year ball (see below right). And then the black dress was for a posh birthday party and was super flattering (see below left) – originally from Little Mistress.

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They have served me well and I may keep them for another year, but will most likely donate them after that so they can keep being re-used.

Anyone else been lucky when thrifting for the party season?

I plan on writing a post about charity shop/ebay tips, so keep a look out for that to save yourself some money and save the planet too!

3 Big Reasons to Boycott Amazon, and the Alternatives

  1. Tax Avoidance – this is well known but cannot be stressed enough! According to this, the corporation should have paid around £100 million in taxes. By not paying tax, Amazon is stealing from the UK tax payer.
  2. Amazon is essentially Anti-union – so employees can easily be exploited. This article is recent and talks about what it’s like to work for such a large corporation where the power balance is so skewed in their favour.
  3. You are a just a number – there have been a few privacy issues that are a bit 1984-ish for my liking! I know a lot of websites use this type of information gathering, but if you use Amazon for everything then they will know you a bit too well.

I think these 3 reasons are enough for me to avoid Amazon as much as possible, but what are the alternatives?

Well first there’s the ethical superstore, which I have recently used to buy a load of Christmas presents. They currently have an offer of £10 off when you spend £50 and free delivery!

Traidcraft also has a huge range from food, to gifts, to household items. And they’re one of the best fair trade brands out there.

Amazon Anonymous also has a great list of alternatives that has been set up in categories so that’s useful if you feel really stuck!

Finally, Amazon Anonymous also has a pledge that you can sign if you want to go Amazon-free for the month of December. So far over £3 million has been diverted from Amazon!! That really shows the power of the consumer! Are you going to boycott Amazon?