Posts Tagged With: ethical

Why did the Beach House Kitchen go vegan?

 

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Behold! The Veggie King…..

WHY VEGAN?

What we eat has never been so important.  In many countries we are blessed with the choice to eat what we want.  At the B.H.K., we believe that going vegan is the most important decisions you could make in terms of your own health, the planets health and the welfare and care of animals.  Veganism is the ultimate expression of peaceful intent for the future.  We will never judge anyone for doing otherwise, we were both very much into bacon sarnies, but here is how we feel now and how our opinions and lifestyles have changed.

Veganism is just a name, we all eat loads of vegan food everyday.  If you eat vegetables, legumes, nuts, fruits, you are part vegan already!  Hoorah!!!!  Choosing a vegan diet, even if its just every now and again, is not about sufferance.  You are not giving anything up, you are actually gaining loads!  Vegan food is outrageously flavourful and moreish, naturally leading to weight loss and energy gains.  For us, thinking vegan lead to new and healthy habits and highlighted the importance of a balanced and nutritious diet.  Taking a step towards veganism leads to a giant leap forward in our collective sustainability.  All we need are open minds (and mouths!)

TAKING THE PLANT-BASED PLUNGE

Jane and I have been vegan/ vegetarians for a while now, and around two years ago, I decided to take the plunge and become full-power vegan (Jane is still eating her homemade Kefir and likes a very occasional Indian Railway style Chai).  If you look back into the Beach House Kitchen library, you will find vegetarian dishes with cheese and egg, but no more.  Our recipes are full plant power and loving every plateful!  We have gone through the whole process, from extremely carnivore to content herbivore and we know exactly what its like to be curious about a vegan diet.  I’ve always loved cooking vegan food.  We ended up giving bits and pieces up and finally blooming into full blown vegan-hood.

We were first attracted to vegan food by its creativity and vibrancy.  It really seems like the food for a brighter future.  It all seemed so beautifully fresh and tantalising.  In our experience, eating vegan food has made us feel lighter and brighter, with oodles of well being and energy.  I know we all say that, but its true!  We have never felt so darn healthy and vivacious.

As a cook, vegan food takes you to a new levels of plant-based deliciousness, it is cooking that is laced with constant surprises!  Rich, robust, raw, ravishing…….all that and much, much more.  Organic plant foods are clean and superbly nutritious, there is no need for dairy or meat in our diets anymore.  We can choose a new way to eat.  Munching and cooking a balanced and creative vegan diet is such a joy and is never, ever dull.  It is inexpensive and simple.  Anyone can do it (we did!)  Vegan food worships good produce and is constantly looking for fresh and interesting ways of creating magical meals.  Hopefully we tap into that enthusiasm here on the B.H.K.

A NATURAL PROGRESSION

Avoiding meat and dairy all together seemed a very natural progression for me, especially when based on environmental and ethical evidence (some of the challenging facts and figures can be found here).  The closer we got to nature and the more we learn about the impact of large scale meat and dairy production, the more we realised that this is the only way for us to express our hopes and dreams for the future.  Becoming a vegan has a massive effect on the environment; our own health and the well being of animals.  It is a no-lose decision and can only lead to a more peaceful existence for all.  It’s very big deal!

Leaving meat and dairy off your plate is a powerful message and a stance against many forms of cruelty.  The suffering that animals endure to provide generally unnecessary nutrients to humans seems utterly wrong.  Meat and dairy not only harm the body by labouring it with saturated fats and cholesterol, which inevitably lead to a long term degradation of health, but also see us collectively condoning the destruction of our beautiful planet.

Gorgeous Raf Tomatoes – Too Sexy

A MINDFUL DIET

We are more conscious now of what we eat, we don’t just wolf it down anymore.  We feel more in tune with our bodies and far more creative with our cooking; having to combine a greater number of ingredients and textures to create delicious dishes.  Veganism has made us focus much more on our diets and how they effect our body and mind.  We have also learnt a lot more about nutrition and have come to realise that we are what we eat and most (if not all) mass-produced food is just not up to scratch.  Food made in factories by machines just seems wrong, for a start, there is no love there.  Our food needs bags of love and home made is best.  We know it’s difficult in the busy modern world, but its something to aim for and most of all, enjoy!

We both found that when you begin to give up or lower the foods that are doing us no good (we all instinctively know what these are and you’re not going to like me for saying this…..but) – fatty nibbles, alcohol, caffeine, sugar etc, cravings gradually slip away and we feel lighter and energy levels rise.  Our bodies need good, clean, easy to digest fuel.  Namely, plant based food.  Foods that make you shine!

WHERE’S THE FUN IN IT?!

A friend of mine said to me “Where’s the fun in it?!” refering to a healthy diet.  I can assure you, there is still plenty of fun in the Beach House, just minus the lamb chops.  Healthy eating doesn’t have to be stuffy and rigid, there are endless recipes that are absolutely delicious and an incredible palate of ingredients and flavours to play with.  It does take a little change of the palate and a new approach to the way that you eat and subsequently live, but after a short while it becomes perfectly normal.  Your palate becomes more sensitive, with less exposure to rich and overly seasoned foods and you can enjoy the subtle flavours of ingredients and simpler foods.

Homegrown plums anyone?

Homegrown plums anyone?

NO PURITANS PLEASE

This is not a puritanical vegan blog, we will never preach from an upturned potato crate.  This is a good vibes vegan blog!  We ate meat for years ourselves.  We have found that all vegans get there in different ways.  We do however feel that there is a collective shift taking place, there is more and more awareness about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle.  We are amazed and excited to see society changing in that way.  Most of us are realising that plants have to take a larger role in our diets, not just for our own sake, but to attempt to reverse the damage that we are doing to the earth.

VEGAN FOR ALL!

We try to make our dishes appeal to all tastes and most of our carnivorous friends love dinners at the Beach House (even my Dad, who has gone from a greens hater to Kale’s number one fan).  You’ll find our recipes are packed with flavour and nutrients and we love a good plate of food, so the portions are always hearty and satisfying.  Our food is cooked from the heart, it’s real (good for the) soul food!

If you interested in learning more about a vegan/ vegetarian lifestyle, please see the ‘links’ section which is full of interesting veggie related blogs and sites or leave a comment beneath a post or email us (hellobeachhousekitchen@gmail.com).  We’d love to hear from you.

We are even on twitter and facebook.

Beach House blackberries.  Yum!

Beach House blackberries. Yum!

Jump in!

And some interesting and informative vegan websites based in the UK:

The Vegan Society

Veganuary

Viva!

Veganism makes the world a better place for us all, one forkful at a time.

Viva Vegan!x

Lee + Jane

Categories: Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Inspiration, Nutrition, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Wonder Pulp – Aloe Vera Juice

I’ve heard loads of people talking about the benefits of Aloe Vera Juice, in fact, I nearly had a job selling the stuff!  The only problem is that I knew very little about it.  This was until we were given a bottle of the wonder pulp.  It is made by Pukka; organic, ethically sourced, comes in a nice glass bottle, we thought we’d give it a go.

Pukka Aloe Vera Juice

The Aloe plant originates from Northern Africa and it has been used in herbal medicine since the 16th century BC.  The flavour is what you’d call an acquired taste (you can flavour it with juices etc) but you’re not drinking this for a Dom Perignon moment.  This is all about getting you feeling good from the inside out.  Having said that, Aloe Vera is also amazing when rubbed on the skin and has incredible healing effects for burns, scars and many skin conditions like eczema.  You get used to the flavour and it does have a very soothing texture and quality.

The Aloe Plant looks alot like the Agave plant, the famous succulent (that’s a type of plant) that is used to make tequila.  So technically you are drinking a distant cousin of raw tequila.  That’s about as ‘rock and roll’ as the health food industry gets really!  You ain’t going to look like Keith Richards drinking this stuff (which is surely a good thing).

Some technical info:

Pure Aloe Vera juice can be extracted by cutting the leaf, collecting the juice and then evaporating it. When used for drinking, the juice provides many benefits.  This is due to the fact that it contains 12 vitamins (including A, B1, B6, B12, C and E), 19 amino acids and over 20 minerals, with most of these being essential to the body.

Aloe Vera Plant

In Ayurveda, the Indian health system, Aloe Vera is known as Kumari (‘The Princess’) because of its positive effect on the menstrual cycle and female reproductive system. It is also known for its ability to cleanse the liver and protect the digestive system by reducing intestinal inflammation.

With ‘Raw June’ coming to the BHK, we are stocking up on all things healthy, revitalising and nutritious, it seems like Aloe Vera juice ticks all of these boxes and then some.    This bottle of Pukka Aloe Vera Juice now graces our fridge door shelf and we will soon be taking a few teaspoons a day to give us a boost, especially in the first week of the Raw diet, which we hear can be tough.

Just to clarify that we are in no way health experts and all of the medical claims above are exactly that, claims.  It is difficult to prove these things conclusively.  

Categories: Ayurveda, B.H.K Reviews, Detox, Healthy Living, Juices, Nutrition, Organic, Raw Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

May’s Coffee Challenge – Union Hand Roasted Coffee

Union Coffee with my best mug

With our raw food diet starting in June, I am taking time to enjoy my favourite non-raw foodie things.  Coffee being top of the list.  I have set myself the indulgent task of sampling many of my favourite coffees before I go caffeine cold turkey in a few weeks.  I thought I would treat myself to start with by going for one my favourite roasters, Union Coffee.

I have my own little coffee ritual on a daily basis; even when I was super busy down in old London town, I always took time over my coffee.  Coffee time for me is around mid-morning and is always a moment of peace with a revitalising brew.  Even if it’s just a five-minute break, it changes the whole day for the better.

For me, it’s not about that ‘caffeine buzz’ that so many talk about, although it is probably a welcomed side effect most mornings.  Good coffee has a fascinating story and people like Union source and roast only the finest beans from around the world.  When I look at the options, Guatemalan, Rwandan, Indian, Indonesian….I can’t help but get excited.

The quality here comes from dedication and passion, and I see this in the coffees that Union produce.  They care about gourmet coffees produced ethically, it’s not just about the flavour and aroma; it is something that represents the people and environment where it was grown.

Indian Coffee Picker

Living up here in the beautiful wilds of North Wales, good cafes and coffee is thin on the ground.  We have to revert to ‘homebrews’, with our trusty orange cafetière.  This is actually my preferred coffee.  I like a black, long coffee.  No froth.  I had bought my own grinder recently only to find out that a blade grinder is not the best.  It can impair the flavour of the bean by producing heat and an irregular grind.  I have found this to be true; it ruined some great beans from Sheffield recently.  So from now on, I will buy all of my good coffee pre-ground for a cafetière.

To make the perfect pot of cafetière coffee see the guidelines here via the good people of Union.  If you use a filter machine or stove top pot, there are helpful hints here also.  There seems no point in getting the good stuff and ruining it with a dodgy method.

There are so many choices out there for a coffee drinker in the U.K., the selection at supermarkets can be bewildering.  I have found most supermarket bought coffee to be average at best and would much rather spend a little more on mail ordering some of the good stuff.  Worth every penny!

Union build strong relationships with their growers, they were initially inspired by micro-roastery cafes in San Francisco and also felt compelled to improve the difficult situation of growers in many coffee producing regions of the world.

‘Union’ refers to the relationship between the coffee roasters and the hardworking farmers who produce the beans.  They say:

We travel to coffee growing communities in remote regions around the world, building relationships and investing in sustainable livelihoods and farming practices. We discover coffees of distinction by engaging directly with coffee farmers and pair their best work with the art and craft of the coffee roaster.” 

Today I am trying the Bibi Estate AAA Microlot from Karnataka State, India.  This coffee intrigued me as I have visited India and know that there is some decent coffee down in Kerala, but have never tried anything from Karnataka.  India has been making increasingly better coffees in recent years and this one is made from the Arabica Catuai bean.  Bibi Estate is at 1000m above sea level on a 250 acre plantation that also produces peppercorns.

It is a pleasant surprise, a soft and gentle brew.  It has a lovely light nutty aroma and is the perfect mid-morning coffee.  Here is what the official tasters at Union think:

“Overall the cup is mild, with gentle acidity but medium to full-bodied; enjoy the aroma of pecan that follows through into the taste which has praline, toffee honey and ripe mango.”

This is a coffee that can be savoured and is not too overpowering like some of the more heavy weight roasts.

So thanks to the good people of Union for their passion and commitment to gourmet coffee and Mr Faiz Musakutty and his farmers and pickers all they way over there in Karnataka for the beans!

Union have set the bar pretty high here with the Bibi Estate  AAA.   I love their ethos of investing in local, remote farmers to maintain sustainable livelihoods.  I think their passion and integrity can be tasted in every cup.

Calling all coffee lovers and barista brethren: 

May is the month that we seek out the perfect home brew.  We will be sampling different roasts regularly.   

Any recommendations?

Categories: B.H.K Reviews, Breakfast | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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