Harmonium, Edinburgh.

Last night we decided we’d drive through to the burgh to try out the new vegan bar/restaurant Harmonium.

Harmonium can be found on Henderson Street in Leith. It’s a gorgeous wee building, kitted out very naturally with lots of wood! I believe it’s been open about 4 weeks, so very much still in its infancy!

We arrived at 6.20, which was 20 minutes after the kitchen opened. The place was pretty quiet with a few people sitting at the bar and a couple of tables worth of people eating. The staff were very friendly, but if I’m totally honest a little bit vague. We were walk ins, who hadn’t booked a table (in case anyone doesn’t get the ‘walk in’ terminology). The staff informed us they had nothing until 8.30pm, as they were expecting 8 people in approximately 5 minutes. Ok…fair enough…we hadn’t booked, it’s a chance you take. But…this is when it got a bit weird for me and they lost me.

They told us we could take a seat and have a drink whilst we waited and if something became available earlier we’d be taken. Great! Totally fair! But…then they sat us at a table, and told us we could eat at this table….they gave us menus…🤔 I’m not going to lie, I’m now lost. I assumed they were fully booked until 8.30? But…she then explains…they cannot take our order as the kitchen will be busy when the 8 people arrive, in about 5 mins, so they can’t take our order until the kitchen serves the 8 people and it gets quieter! 😲

That made no sense to me, as they had a table…and kitchen staff and we were there…ready to order…and the 8 people weren’t anywhere to be seen yet!

Thankfully, they spoke to the chef who clearly seen the madness in this idea too and agreed to make the food if we ordered. So, we did so…without haste!

Liz went for the fillet-o-tofish, with added vegan cheese and chips and I opted for the tofu katsu curry with brown rice! Mini me didn’t fancy anything really, so she ordered some chips and orange juice only.

I was well impressed with the alcohol free beer and my other half really enjoyed her red wine. Sadly, she cut her lip on a chipped wine glass, but they replaced the glass and gave her a fresh serving of wine, so all well that ends well. 👍

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Let’s get to the food….

The tofish was absolutely gorgeous. Tasty AF! The batter was to absolutely die for and the bun was lovely and soft. Sadly, the chips were freezing, but again…they sorted that out without any bother!

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The katsu is what I actually drove through for, so I was extra happy it was on the menu. It did not disappoint!

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The sauce was exquisite! I loved it, not too spicy but super aromatic. The breadcrumb coating on the tofu was lovely and although not extra firm, the tofu itself was lush. I’m a tofu addict though, and would eat it in any form!

My only criticism is that the portion sizes are small. The chips are sparse on the side and even the separate portions are very small…about 1/3 the size of a Mono portion. The rice was kind of congealed and there was hardly any at all, no where near enough to soak up the sauce. And…the meal was served just warm, a long way off hot! That didn’t bother me last night, as we were starving…but I may have sent it back on another occasion.

The service is a bit sporadic, they forgot our daughter’s chips and took ages to get us mayo, etc. But…they are just open and probably getting to grips with full service on busy nights etc. I’m sure it’ll come together! Oddly enough, quirky service seems to be the norm in vegan establishments….that and short troosers! 😂 (you’ll be looking for that now).

We didn’t manage a dessert as they’d ran out of chocolate cheesecake (which is odd considering the kitchen had only been open an hour when we were ordering dessert). The sweet selection isn’t up to much, but hopefully they’ll work on this. High street chains have more impressive vegan treats, but give the place time…it’s only 4 weeks old and the main menu is extensive already!

Despite the wee niggles, we had a gorgeous meal and we would definitely go back!

I’d give harmonium a firm 7 out of 10 right now….which I’m sure will improve with time.

They need some music too. I can’t recall hearing anything!

Overall, big thumbs up to a vegan restaurant in auld reekie. They’ve got a long way to go until they’re as pro vegan as Glasgow, so this is a welcome addition to the city I’m sure we all agree!

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Tofooooo and painting.

Back to the painting today, but before I start I decided I needed some sustenance.

Liz opted for vegan cream cheese on bagels with seeds, avocado and marmite….but, as usual, I had to indulge my obsession and have tofu!

For some it’s cocaine or heroin….or alcohol. For me, it’s tofu!!!

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I quickly threw together spicy peanut tofu with bulgar wheat. It’s  a really simple recipe that I’ve adapted from The Buddhist Chef.

I’m now stappit (a guid Scottish word) and ready to tackle the last few jobs in the house.

Have fun, whatever you’re doing today.

🤘

Chia give me….strength…and healthy skin…and good heart health….

Hands up if you like chia seeds!

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Chia seeds have become one of the most popular ‘super foods’ of the 21st century. The fact their popular almost puts me off them, I’m much more comfortable swimming against the tide. But…nevertheless…the wealth of benefits are too irresistible to me.

Chia literally translates to strength.  These tiny little seeds originate from Mexico, where they were used as currency (believe it or not) as they were famed for their medicinal properties. If only I could use them as currency now, I’d be a millionaire!!! 🤣

It’s reported that Aztec warriors regularly ate chia seeds to give them energy and endurance. Apparently 1tsp gave them elevated energy levels for 24 hours!! That’s quite a claim, isn’t it?

Truth is….I wasn’t around when the Aztec warriors were devouring their chia, so I cannot confirm these claims…but, I have done a shit load of reading around current claims and can say with some certainty that there is a good evidence base for the health benefits of these tiny little seeds!!

So, what do these things do….I hear you ask! Well, let me tell you….they have a whole host of health benefits.

Including;

  • Promotion of healthy skin.
  • Reducing signs of aging.
  • Supporting heart health.
  • Regulated digestive system.
  • Helps build strong bones & muscles.
  • Halt/reverse diabetes!

Considering chia seeds are almost microscopic, they pack a punch when it comes to nutrients. They’re rich in fibre, with a whopping 42% of your recommended daily intake in every ounce!

They’re also crazy full of omega-3, you know the good stuff that reduces inflammation, lowers bad cholesterol and blood pressure. Chia seeds contain more omega-3 than salmon!!! Can you believe that? So, you can get omega-3 from a seed and nobody has to die for it?? Wowza! Surely that’s all you need to hear….shift to chia….your heart will literally thank you! 💞

The humble chia seed is rich in protein, with 4.4g (9% of your daily allowance) from one portion.

They’re also full of vitamins (A, B, E & D) and minerals also. And…get this…they have 77mg of calcium per portion, 18% of your daily allowance. Which btw….isn’t much different from the amazing and necessary (sarcasm) dairy milk. 100mls of whole milk has 113mg…and considering chia seeds are TINY and cruelty free, whereas milk is literally the work of Satan (too severe?)….I don’t even think milk stands a chance here.

Let’s explore specific claims a wee bit more. Let’s start with one all of us will find beneficial; effect on skin and aging.

So, a recent study in Mexico showed that the levels of antioxidant in chia can stop up to 70% of free radicals. (The easiest way to think of free radicals is to image they’re the evil villain and Antioxidants are the body’s super hero of choice to deal with them!) Antioxidants are responsible for skin repair and play an essential role in preventing further skin damage. So….double bonus….loads of antioxidants = less free radicals and reduction in skin damage with speedy repairs! Win win!

These little beuts are also very fibre rich. We know fibre is essential for good gut health. Fibre assists the body to balance insulin levels. They also have a unique little trick – when ingested they begin to produce a gelatin like substance which works to promote the growth of probotics in the guy = healthy gut and healthy jobbies! (Yup, the world stool would have been more grown up there, but I’d have let the side down if, when presented with an opportunity to crowbar the word jobbie in, I didn’t!)

I could go on and on about these seeds. But….I’ll end on the great diabetes topic. Diabetes is a huge public health issue at present. The levels of diabetes in our population is incredible. Yes, lots of it is type 2 and related to poor diet, lifestyle, etc. However, the disease itself is prevalent at present and we should all be doing out bit to reduce the incidence of developing the disease. There are lots of ways of doing this, of course, but I’m particularly fascinated by the impact the chia seed can have on this disease.

A recent study in Argentina found some interested data when they researched this a little more deeply. To cut a very long story short, they fed a group of test rats a diet rich in sucrose with the addition of Chia seeds as fat. The results for these subjects was rather astounding….their blood didn’t alter. These animals didn’t show any signs of morbidity despite their diet consisting of 65% sugar! 😲

The second group of rats were fed a diet high in sucrose to create insulin resistance. These rats were then fed chia seeds for a further 8 weeks…and….yup, you guessed it…they recovered!!! They actually recovered.

So, from this can we go as far as saying chia can halt diabetes and perhaps even reverse it?? I don’t honestly know if we can claim that, as of yet, but what we can say is that they are having some impact. And…quite possibly…they are beneficial in the fight against diabetes.

Btw, use of rats for this study is in no way vegan, but I am simply discussing the study in its entirety. This does not mean I agree with it.

There is a ton more information out there on the chia seed. I could literally write all night! Do some research, see what you think.

They recommend you begin your chia journey with 15g per day of the seed. I have mine on my toast, in sandwiches, smoothies and even sprinkled on my dinner. But you can soak them, have them in tea or make puddings from them. The possibilities are endless.

In Chia I most definitely  trust!

🥄

 

 

 

Be still my beating heart – vegan mac & cheese! 💗

How is it even possible to create a mac & cheese without ANY cheese…any cheese replacement…and it taste better than ‘real’ macaroni cheese??

I don’t know how it’s possible . It’s some weird vegan magic. Some voodoo! But, what I do know is that it’s fandabbydozy.

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I served it with roasted brocolli, kale and sweetcorn. I also had a couple of wee bits of left over sweet tattie from last night.

I can honestly say this tasted better than regular macaroni cheese. There is NO NEED to use cheese, milk or butter when you can make a dish like this without any cruelty or exploitation.

In case any of you want this recipe (there are loads of vegan mac & cheese recipes).

You’ll need…

  • 200g raw cashew nuts.
  • 3 Tbs of lemon juice.
  • 300 mls water.
  • 5 Tbs Nutritional Yeast
  • Pinch of Tumeric
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tbs Wholegrain Mustard
  • 1/2 Tbs Garlic Powder.
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste.

I literally just blitzed it all in the blender. Added some pasta water and then added the sauce to the cooked pasta.

It could not be easier!

Moving away from the food, for a second, we went to see Beauty & the Beast today. Finally my little B wanted to see It and she LOVED it.

After the cinema we went for some household stuff. I had no idea astonish was vegan and cruelty free. So, now I do…I bought a few bits of peices for the noise.

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It’s back to work tomorrow for me. 😭 I hate going back after annual leave…but I know I need to.

Day 32….Surely when you know better, you’ll do better?

Enjoying the last few days of annual leave by staying home and cooking. Bette has been tired since Sunday, I think the birthday week of fun has finally caught up with her.

Today my little love and I stayed home and watched TV and played. Liz did the gardening  (I honestly can’t, my hayfever is super bad! – that’s my story and I’m sticking to It! 🤣).

I did do other things, for example….I ironed a pair of jeans!!! I haven’t done that in a long time, but I truly believe you should do something every day that frightens you. So, I did It!

Tonight I decided to make a Buddha bowl for us. I love picky bowls and thought this one would be a winner.

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Powered by plants!

Even just looking at the ingredients makes you feel healthier. The bowl I chose was creamy sweet potato and chick pea, with kale, broccoli, red onion and crispy baked tofu. I served it with a tiny amount of wholewheat rice and nutritional yeast.

It was absolutely amazing. I’m not going to lie. It ticked every box on my foodie wishlist. Creamy, tasty and fresh! Real plant based goodness. Free from all cruelty and death!

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NOTHING tastes as good as compassion feels. I truly believe this.

We followed our dinner with a lovely wee pudding of soya chocolate pot and fresh fruit. I washed it all down with green tea, whilst Liz had a coconut cappuccino.

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We decided to watch an old classic movie tonight. One of my absolute favourites….’Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’. If you’ve never seen it I highly recommend it. Bette Davis with her rival; Joan Crawford.

On another note, I watched a bit of ‘Earthlings’ this afternoon. I managed 20 minutes and in that time I was crying like a baby. It’s absolutely abhorrent to see how we treat animals. I honestly felt distraught and now find it hard to comprehend how people can know the things I know and still choose to eat meat, drink milk, etc.

My motto has always been ‘you do the best you can…and when you know better, you do better.’

I find it deplorable that people find it easier to bury their head and not learn about the truth, just to allow them to continue living their life trouble free.

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People should not be shielded from the processes behind the creation of their foodstuffs. I won’t scare people into becoming vegan, but I wont shield people from reality either. We need to work together to drive change….because goodness knows, change is long overdue!

I’m perplexed how society find it so easy to separate their food from animals. We claim to be a nation of animal lovers, yet have no problem with the exploitation and abuse of billions of animals every year, for little more than a steak…a sandwich….a sweetie….a yoghurt. Why do people relate to dogs/cats…but not to cows, pigs, sheep etc?

An example of this is the current media surrounding fox hunting. I literally see people up in arms about the prospect of fox hunting being legalised again. Yet not one of these people think twice about posting the ‘ban hunting’ memes whilst bailing into their steak pie or bacon sandwich. What’s wrong with that picture??? I’m genuinely asking!

I’m heading to bed. I have a date with a gorgeous little four year old tomorrow. She finally wants to see ‘Beauty and the Beast’.

I’ll do a wee recipe blog for the Buddha bowl. Should anyone be interested.

The irony of your face turning to leather when you’re a vegan!

The last week has been HELL for me with hayfever. I’ve always suffered, but never like this. I’m at a point where my entire face is actually turning to leather….a vegan with a leather face??? That’s got to be a cruel joke!

My eyes are on fire. Swollen. Burning. Wattering. My face is so painful and the skin is hard and burning. Even my lips are agony.

I’ve tried all the over the counter and herbal remedies, but nothing will touch this level of irritation. So, last resort…a visit to my local general practitioner. She agreed I’m in a bad way and prescribed some meds that should hopefully help. Anyone who knows me will know I’m very anti non essential medicating…vaccinating…etc. (that’s an entirely other post).

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Now, before we go any further. No medication is technically vegan. We all know this. But…for me…I need to take medication at times and although I’d prefer it to be vegan, if it is not, I’m still going to take it. A dead vegan is no use to anyone! You can’t do much fighting for a cause if you’re pushing up daisys. Of course, hayfever will not end my life…but I’m miserable and I may commit an atrocious act to an innocent by passer because of my constant pain and irritibility. So, for me…the risk outweighs the bad.

Lunch today was left over sweet tattie and white bean chilli, with some rice and a blitzed avocado with loads of chilli and lemon juice.

Now for some house work…and to convince my child that she needs to have a shower.

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Btw…have you any idea how hard it is to find a lip balm suitable for vegans?? I now have one, but there was only one in Holland and Barrett!

 

It’s a gorgeous day. I hope you get to enjoy some time out in the sun! I won’t be….for reasons mentioned above, but I will take the dugs a walk tonight before bed….when the pollen has stopped flying around.