jessicagatfieldphotography@hotmail.com

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5 benefits of a 7 day social media detox is a post I thought I would never write. You see, since relaunching my little corner of the internet in September, I haven’t had a break from social media. If anything, I have become glued to…

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My Highlights Of 2017

As another year draws to a close, I look back on my highlights of 2017 and what made this year a special one. From incredible vegan food, smashing blogging goals and travelling afar, 2017 has really been a fantastic year.

Vegan Food

2017 has been a fantastic year for Veganism. Pizza Hut launched vegan pizzas nationwide, McDonalds trialled a Vegan Burger in Sweden and Ben & Jerry’s launched a dairy-free range. It is becoming more mainstream and accessible and such a fantastic step in the right direction. Vegfest in October showcased incredible foods, Hackney Downs Vegan Market introduced me to Vegan brioche doughnuts and I tried authentic Vegan hot dogs in Copenhagen. Furthermore, having a wide range of festive sandwiches to choose from this year has been great. I cannot wait to see what 2018 brings for us little Vegans worldwide.

Highlights Of 2017

Vegan Festive Pizza From Zizzi, Deliveroo

Highlights Of 2017: Blogging

This September I bit the bullet, moved over to self hosted and rebranded. I waved goodbye to The Soul Searching Graduate and embodied Simply Living Vegan. The support I have received has been incredible and in 4 months I have formed some great online relationships, found a supportive little community and seen my blog grow from strength to strength. I have put my heart and soul into this corner of the internet and committed myself to post 2-3 times a week. I have been lucky to work with some great brands and PR agencies, sampled some great products and ate some incredible food. My passion is finally turning into something I am incredibly proud of and enjoy sharing with my readers! What’s more, I have hit my blogging goals I set mid year and feel incredibly proud!

Highlights Of 2017: Holidays

Edinburgh

2017 has been a fantastic year for venturing abroad and in total I’ve enjoyed 4 holidays! Chris whisked me away to Edinburgh for my birthday in April where I fell in love with the city. As a typical Brit I moan when it’s too cold and even more so when it’s too hot but you’ll be happy to know I loved the crisp cold air in Scotland. We stayed in Leith and enjoyed the most wonderful food (hotspot for Vegans) and explored the cobbled streets. We seem to love walking and walking for hours, sipping on coffee and soaking up the fresh air and sunshine.

Highlights: Birthday pancakes at Hendersons, the beautiful botanical gardens and the super cool Camera Obscura. 

Bergamo

This beautiful city Northeast of Italy won our hearts in July and has since become one of our favourite holiday spots, definitely our most loved in Italy. It’s tranquil, picturesque and bursting with culture, a place we didn’t think we would love as much as we did. The week was perfect and one where we both relaxed and enjoyed our surroundings. The lack of an itinerary meant we enjoyed each moment and immersed ourselves in Lombardy traditions.

Highlights: Swimming in Lake Iseo, exploring Citta Alta and find vegan Maxibons.

View From Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

Copenhagen

In September we booked a last minute break to Copenhagen as the flights were unbelievably cheap. Don’t be fooled though, cheap flights don’t mean a cheap city! It had to be the most expensive we have ever visited – something we were in denial about until we arrived. The city was beautiful, clean and packed full of architectural wonder. It was surprisingly cheaper to eat out (something il never argue with) and to explore the city by foot (we walked 10+ miles a day). I’d definitely recommend for Vegan food and immersing oneself in the Hygge way of life.

Highlights: Exploring Christiana Freetown, vegan burgers in Paper Island and Tivoli Gardens at night.

Dubai

The final holiday of the year was a trip to a Dubai to visit family. It wasn’t bursting with culture nor held much of interest to me however the kindness of strangers and relaxed way of life amongst the hustle and bustle was heartwarming. The City never slept and we always felt incredibly safe. It is a place of indulgence, greed and wealth yet also full of love and kindness.

Highlights: Aquaventure waterpark, Lebanese cuisine and skyscraper views.

Spa Breaks

As well as these fantastic trips away my bestie took me to the Cotswolds for a spa weekend where we drank a ton of Prosecco, walked for miles and enjoyed a massage or two. As a belated birthday gift, my mum, sister and I had a spa day in June too where we laughed, swam and dined like Queens. Spas provide the ultimate relaxation!

Highlights Of 2017: Work

My day job has presented me with the biggest highs and lows this year. I got promoted, led a team and we exceeded our targets meaning social integration won and our mission was fulfilled. But, on the other side of the coin, that wasn’t without a lot of sacrifice, hard work and unhappiness at times. I got to work with the most incredible, kind, loving and genuine people many of whom will be friends for life. Mid December held one of the hardest weeks, saying goodbye to those that made the workplace a better one. I feel so incredibly grateful to have worked with such special individuals who have taught me so much about myself and shaped me into a better person. It has shown me that everything truly is a test; the lows to encourage you to find strength and highs to let you celebrate them.

Highlights Of 2017: Looking Forward To 2018

As a Christmas gift I received The Happiness Planner, a journal for 2018 which incorporates daily mindfulness and positive thinking into the everyday. I cannot wait to put my goals and dreams on paper, get planning and make 2018 the best year yet. I am looking forward to changing my perspective, becoming more focused and living more in line with my purpose.

What were your highlights of 2017?

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Veganuary: Tips On How To Stay Vegan For The 30 Days

Christmas has passed and you’ve eaten your weight in cheese, sausage rolls and mince pies and all you can think about is a detox. Before you research the next fad diet and sign your soul away to a gym membership you know you’ll never use, why not try Veganuary. The word Vegan may be making you wince or may even have you intrigued. Either way, for just one month you could immerse yourself in a lifestyle change that could change the way you live forever. Or, it may not. But, I dare you to take the challenge and give Veganuary a go. It’s only for 30 days, what have you got to lose?

You’re probably thinking, ‘Okay I like a challenge, but where the hell do I start?’ You can find in depth information about Veganuary here however I’m here to share with you my tips on how to hold out for the entire month and keep your head above water.

Tip 1: Accept New Flavours

Coming to terms with the fact that your food will taste different is step 1 of this journey. You will be opening yourself up to experience new and wonderful flavours, plant-based proteins and tasty food combos you never knew existed. Accept that foods will taste different and be open to trying things you would have never tried before.

Vegan Cheeseburger from Big V London

Tip 2: Recreate Your Favourite Recipes 

Satisfy those burger and chip cravings and recreate your own vegan version. There are so many meat-free delicious alternatives that can satisfy the burger shaped hole in your life which are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol. Research vegan takes on all of your favourite dishes and I’m sure you will find something just as tasty!

Tip 3: Plan Plan & Plan

 I cannot stress this enough, plan plan plan. If you plan your meals in advance, there is less of a chance that your old familiar meat and dairy cravings will have a chance to resurface. The internet is full of vegan weekly meal plans, delicious and easy recipes and tips on getting the right nutrients from your new found way of eating.

Tip 4: If You Slip Up, Carry On

 If you do find yourself nibbling on any non-vegan food whilst taking part in Veganuary, accept it has happened and move on. It is how you bounce back from your mistakes and your determination to carry on that will see you through to the end.

Tip 5: Educate Yourself On The Benefits

By the end of the month you would have saved animals from slaughter, improved you health and may even have lost a few pounds. By switching to a vegan diet you can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and with a well-balanced diet can increase your intake of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients.  The inner animal lover within you will begin to view farm animals as sentient beings and less like something you can enjoy on your plate.

Tip 6: Make A Connection

It’s all well and good changing your diet and eating more plant based foods but you need to make that connection to where your food comes from. A top tip would be to visit an animal sanctuary and spend time with the beings that you, only a month before, had been eating. When you realise that pigs, cows and chickens are intelligent creatures and have personalities, it may make you think twice about what you eat from February onward.

Will you take the challenge of going Vegan in January? 

Sign up to Veganuary here!

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Easy Vegan Chocolate Twists

What better way to satisfy chocolate and pastry cravings with Vegan Chocolate Twists. Ready in less than 20 minutes, they not only taste delicious but require minimal ingredients. Jus Rol pastry make these dark chocolate twists an easy throw together treat and something to share with your loved ones. What’s more, it’s a great way to use up your remaining Vegan chocolate from the festive period!

Easy Vegan Chocolate Twists

Easy Vegan Chocolate Twists: INGREDIENTS

1 pack of Jus Roll Shortcrust Sheet Ready Rolled pastry

50g of Dark Chocolate (I used a Hotel Chocolat Tiddly Pot pieces!)

1 tsp of brown sugar

1 tsp of cocoa powder

Easy Vegan Chocolate Twists

Easy Vegan Chocolate Twists: METHOD

  1. Unbox the pastry, remove packaging and lay onto a flat surface for 30-45 minutes at room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, pour boiling water into a saucepan and place a glass or ceramic bowl over the top to replicate a bain marie. Heat on a medium flame and add the chocolate pieces to the bowl.
  3. Continuously stir the chocolate until melted. Remove from heat and allow to stand.
  4. Next, cut the large pastry sheet in half. On one half, cover the surface in the melted chocolate up to the edges.
  5. Then, lay the remaining pastry sheet on top of the melted chocolate and slice into 4 or 5 even pieces.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cocoa powder and mix. Use a sieve to evenly sprinkle the mixture over the pastry strips for a dusted look.
  7. Carefully twist the sandwiched pastry strips and lay on the parchment paper ready to go in the oven.
  8. Bake at 200 degrees celsius for 15 minutes until golden.

Enjoy warm with a cup of hot chocolate and eat in front of your favourite movie!

Have you made homemade vegan chocolate twists before?

Easy Vegan Chocolate Twists

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Ben & Anna Natural Deodorant Vanilla Orchid* Review

The Ben & Anna Natural Deodorant is created by the vegan couple themselves in a variety of 6 natural and 100% vegan scents. Here I share with my thoughts on the Vanilla Orchid variety and my honest opinion on whether it does in fact neutralise and minimise the dreaded underarm odour after a long day on the go.

Switching to a natural deodorant that is paraben-free, devoid of aluminium traces and not tested on animals is a change we should all embody. Our underarms are sensitive and should be treated with the upmost care. Therefore, when asked to sample one of the 6 scented deodorants from Ben & Anna’s collection, I couldn’t say no. Having just switched to the Salt Of The Earth unscented deodorant, I was willing to see how my body would adjust back to testing a product that was scented.

Switching to a natural deodorant that is paraben-free, devoid of aluminium traces and not tested on animals is… Click To Tweet

Ben & Anna Natural Deodorant Vanilla Orchid* Review

BEN & ANNA NATURAL DEODORANT: TEXTURE & SCENT

Out of the 6 scents, the Vanilla Orchid combination stood out to me the most. It is is fragranced with Vanilla and Ylang Ylang, a scent that comes through in subtle waves. The main ingredient of the creamy shea butter is reflected in the texture. The sodium bicarbonate and arrowroot appear alongside with a further play-dough like undertone smell.

Upon initial application, the vanilla scent is replicated onto the skin. It leaves a creamy layer on the underarm that does not irritate nor congeal, it simply is absorbed into the pores. However, at the end of a long day, the fragrance can turn rather unpleasant. The added ingredient of Citrus Reticulata Peel Oil aka Mandarin extract becomes very overpowering and pungent. Rather than minimising the scent of any odour it in facts masks it with a flowery citrus fragrance. This, unfortunately has put me off the fragrance as it does not suit my skin or body type.

On the contrary, the texture, application and use of minimal ingredients is a huge plus. For those of you that love floral scents, natural oils and moisturising shea butter will love this. It just depends on whether your underarms agree with the combination of fragrance at the end of a long day from work if you are prone to perspiring.

 

Ben & Anna Natural Deodorant Vanilla Orchid* Review

BEN & ANNA NATURAL DEODORANT:PACKAGING

If, like me you are a sucker for beautiful packaging, the design will get you. The mandala style flowery pattern is simple yet eye-catching which is complimented by the simple text. It is clearly labelled with the Vegan Society approved V on both the front and back of the stick and highlights that is its ‘100% natural, Vegan, Cruelty-Free and contains 0% Aluminium’. The only downside is the use of plastics, which thankfully can be recycled. The recycling symbol is in the process of being added to the bottle for future products. However, they have released each scent in a 100% sustainable cardboard container which is made from recyclable paper tubes! This is a definite move in the right direction for the brand!

Ben & Anna Natural Deodorant Vanilla Orchid* Review

Source: www.ben-anna.com

 

BEN & ANNA NATURAL DEODORANT:OTHER SCENTS

Above are the other scents Ben & Anna have to offer with their beautiful designs that perfectly reflect upon the flavour itself. You have the Persian Lime (the best unisex seller), Indian Mandarine, Provence (Lavender blossom), Pink Grapefruit and Nordic Timber (Palmrosa and Ceder). I love that many if not all can be used by men or women, offering unusual scents that you can imagine with smell delicious.

BEN & ANNA NATURAL DEODORANT:VERDICT

Despite my body not getting along with the scent, my underarms loved the feel and smoothness of the product. It is easy to use, moisturising and contains no nasties. The use of 100% natural ingredients is reassuring for the body and let’s you know your pits are getting the best treatment. Introducing the sustainable packaging is step in the right direction for this couple and one I wish to see rolled out in every product. There are so many pro’s to this deodorant but just be sure to find a scent that suits you and your body type.

Have you tried Ben & Anna Natural Deodorant?

Leave a comment below!

*This product was gifted to me for review. All opinions are honest and my own. 

 

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