Thursday, 17 August 2017

Why I Eat Meat Replacements as a Vegan.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like vegan meat replacements can cause a little contention. I’ve heard many a comment (usually from those that aren’t vegan) wondering why one might eat them if you’re so against eating meat, along with why companies feel the need to not only recreate meat, but then name it after meat too (the latter of which I think is down to marketing and wanting to make it seem like a familiar product).

I did put this question out to the Twitterverse and got some mixed responses. Lots of people said they enjoy them as part of their diet, although some prefer to choose whole food options and eat meat replacements occasionally. Some people said that although they might eat them occasionally they find their “meatiness” somewhat uncomfortable and prefer to give them a slightly wider birth. And honestly, I get all those opinions and no one is right or wrong in their choice. I thought that today I’d start a little conversation here on the blog about why I personally choose to eat meat replacements and what my overall thoughts are on them.

Sorry, not sorry if this photo makes you feel uncomfortable. This beautiful creature is the reality of the meat and dairy industry. If you choose meat, this beautiful creature is what could be on your plate.

Admittedly, when I first transitioned to being veggie and then vegan, I didn’t eat that much in the way of meat replacements, and I remember thinking “why would I eat something that’s intentionally pretending to be meat when I’m so against eating meat”. I wonder now whether it was maybe too close to the giant meat habit that I was breaking (I did go totally cold turkey into vegetarianism overnight and although I hate to admit it – I was a massive carnivore). But back then I just didn’t feel the need to eat them, and so I didn’t.

However, as time has gone on I have found myself eating more meat replacement products. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t eat them with every meal (which is what I used to do with meat), but I maybe eat them 2-3 times per week depending on a) how much time I have, b) how organised I’ve been with my food shopping and c) what I’m fancying on the day.

For me, meat replacement products are a massive convenience. They can make whipping up a quick meal really easy for when I’m in a time pinch or not really in the mood to cook. I had 25 years of meat being the star of the show, and so for me it’s a bit of a fall back, default setting. I know I can always stick some Linda McCartney sausages or a Fry’s burger in the oven and have something tasty with minimal effort – and damn, they’re so tasty. Ok, that’s not the most nutritious meal, but you know, I’m generally eating a far healthier diet as a vegan than I did as an omnivore so I’m personally happy to have the odd slightly less nutritious meal. Life’s about balance after all.

One thing I do think meat replacement products are great for is supporting the transitioning veggie or vegan. Using meat replacement products, I am able to make the majority of the meals that I really enjoyed as a meat eater – sausage casserole, roast dinner, meaty stir fry. All these meals are possible (and in my opinion, don’t taste much different) with the use of meat replacements. They’re also great if you eat meat, but are trying to look at reducing your intake. There as so many wonderful veggie/vegan recipes out there that don’t require a meat replacement and don’t miss that “meaty” component to the meal, but for ease, I think it’s great to have the option of a substitute.

I think as time has gone on, I’ve had more opportunity to try different meat replacement products and realised that I do quite enjoy the taste of them. I quite enjoyed the taste of meat too and I certainly didn’t go vegan because I didn’t enjoy meat, I really did enjoy meat. I just didn’t enjoy the reality that what was on my place was once a living being and it no longer had a life because I’d chosen to eat it.

 I think many people who aren’t vegan see the vegan lifestyle and diet as being very restrictive, but I don’t like to look at it that way. I’m a glass half full kinda gal, and so I like to see all the possibilities -  all the foods that I choose to still eat, which is a far larger group than the foods I choose not to eat. And meat replacements just make that group of foods I choose to eat that bit bigger and could make veganism feel that bit less restrictive to someone on the outside looking in.

I’d love to live in a world where animals aren’t killed for us to eat. Where people see the reality of the cruelty involved in animal agriculture and choose compassion over something that tastes good in the moment. If meat replacements help us on our way there and provide someone with an option to make a positive change for the animals, the planet and themselves, then I am ALL FOR THAT.

And just in case you’re wondering, here’s a little list of some of my favourite, vegan friendly meat replacement products.

Linda McCartney Sausages
These are my absolute staple, I always buy in bulk and have them on hand. I actually start to break out in a cold sweat if I see my stash getting low. I personally prefer the original to the red onion and rosemary and chorizo varieties. Perfect in a sausage butty or my ultimate comfort food, sausage casserole. FYI the sausage rolls are also pretty heavenly.

Vbites Meat-Free Duck Pieces
I much prefer the Vbites mock duck to the LM shredded version as it’s bigger chunks and personally I think it tastes nicer. I used to be a big lover of duck, especially from the Chinese takeaway and I can honestly say that the taste and texture of this is so similar – it’s like wizardry. Whack it in a stir fry or in a spring roll and you are on your way to food heaven.

Fry’s Burgers, Escalopes and Meaty Strips
I’ve tried lots of the Fry’s products (burgers, escalopes, schnitzels, strips) and honestly, I like them all. The burgers are succulent and juicy and taste amazing. The escalopes, chicken style burgers and schnitzels make for an excellent katsu curry addition a la Wagamamas, and their meaty strips pimp up many a dish including pastas and stir frys.

Seitan
I’ve only ever made my own seitan, so I can’t compare to shop bought, but seitan is pretty easy to make and great to have on hand. It’s made from wheat gluten and so is high in protein and makes for a wonderful stroganoff or even a donner style kebab. With seitan it’s all about the flavourings, and if you’re making it yourself you have full creative control of how you want it to taste.

Let's start a conversation:
I'd love to know your thoughts on vegan meat replacement products - are they a yay or a nay for you? Also, if you do choose to eat them, what are your recommendations? I'm always looking for new things to try so send them over either in the comments below or drop me a tweet @_hellojordan.

Monday, 14 August 2017

My Guide to Balance.

My Guide To Balance- My General Life


Balance. I have talked about balance on the blog before, but it was a little while ago and honestly looking back at the post now, I don’t feel that it’s as informative as I’d like it to be. And so I thought I’d take another crack at it. I received some really positive responses from my self care post last week (thank you so much!), and so I thought I’d try to tackle balance in more of an in depth, useful manner. Because really, what is this blog doing if it’s not giving you something useful?

I think that this guide on balance follows on nicely from my self care post as the two, I feel, are closely linked. I hope that each of them will allow you to feel more empowered towards enhancing and taking control of your own health and wellbeing, something I am keen for this space to promote.

WHAT IS BALANCE?


Well, in the context of this post, I’m referring to balance being more of an equilibrium of your daily activities and demands, rather than being able to balance on one leg or on your hands (although wouldn’t being able to handstand with ease be an absolute joy?). 

I think, like I discussed with self care, it’s hard to put a concrete definition to balance as it’s such an individual concept. What constitutes balance for one person, might be complete imbalance for another. And although time use and daily activities are important considerations for balance, it’s also important to consider individual values and attitudes alongside the socio-cultural environment as these too will influence balance and perception of balance.

When doing a little further reading for this post, I came across an article that discussed balance being more akin to being centred with a stable base rather than the traditional analogy of a scale. I like this way of looking at balance as life is generally not about balancing out two separate things, it’s a dynamic process and usually consists of far more than that. The disturbance of a stable base can be far less severe than that of a scale and can allow you opportunity to decide what to ride out and take some instability for, whether it be for good or bad, and what to let go of.

WHY IS BALANCE IMPORTANT?


Balance, in my opinion, is very closely linked with self care. In fact, I believe that being mindful of balance in your daily life is indeed one large act of self care. Although hard to fully define, in it’s essence it’s about creating some stability and equilibrium in what you do and why you do it in order to enhance your overall wellbeing.

I’m sure we’ve all had periods of time where we have felt that we’re doing too much of one thing and not enough of something else. Be it working extra hours, or being unemployed and having a lack of productive tasks to focus on, or not feeling that you have enough time to pursue your leisure interests because of other commitments. Or even, as I discussed in my self care post, being so bogged down in the daily grind that you lack opportunity to take care of you.

IS BALANCE EVEN ACHIEVABLE?


Balance itself could be viewed as an idealistic concept. One that we strive for but very rarely reach due to ever changing factors. And even if we do reach it, it may only be for a fleeting moment.

What I feel is important is taking what you do and trying to align it with your values, beliefs, attitudes, resources and socio-cultural environment. This is where, I believe, a true sense of wellbeing will come into play, through the alignment of action and values. Because there will be things in life that you don’t have control over, that are non-negotiable time commitments, such as work or looking after family/children. It might be easy to allow these non-negotiable commitments to flip you into a state of total imbalance, unless they align with your values and with your beliefs and allow you to live with integrity. Now it might be that you can’t fully align your actions and values overnight and that this is something that requires a little work, development and consideration.

While striving for a more balanced life can be important and helpful in promoting overall wellbeing and ensuring that you are taking opportunity to care for yourself, it’s also important to be flexible in your approach in order to ensure that the act of striving for balance doesn’t take over and prevent you from enjoying the moment.

Remember the stable base analogy? This analogy allows for flexibility, it allows for movement forward, backward, side to side, up and down. You create your stable base, your balance, by aligning your actions with your values and then when life throws you a curve ball, you can take it and adjust your base accordingly.

WHAT CREATES BALANCE/IMBALANCE?


As we’ve discussed, balance is pretty subjective, changeable and, at times, idealistic. But it allows us, within reason, to strive towards a life that promotes our wellbeing and allows us to live with integrity.

So what promotes balance or throws it off kilter? Well we’ve already discussed about aligning your actions and activities with your values, for me this is a big one in promoting balance. I think it is also important to highlight your priorities and the activities/commitments that are most important to you and your overall wellbeing. This enables you to make a conscious choice around what you do or don’t engage in, because doing it all just isn’t sustainable option in the longer term. Balance isn’t about doing more or trying to squeeze more activities into your day. It’s about being selective with the time you have, with what is important to you and what will help to promote your overall wellbeing.

When you think of imbalance, I’m sure all of us can conjure up an image of what that might entail. For me it’s feeling like I must stay late after work every day to get everything done, not being able to take part in my hobbies/leisure time and feeling totally overwhelmed by the housework I’ve let build up as a result. I think with many circumstances, finding the negative is always that bit easier than finding the positives, but we can use this to our advantage when we’re considering what will promote balance in our own lives. Because if you know what imbalance looks like, then you can clearly see what you don’t want/need. You can identify the circumstances in which your actions and values don’t align and how this might impact on your overall wellbeing.

HOW DO WE WORK TOWARDS IMPROVING BALANCE?


I’ve mentioned throughout this post that balance is individual and subjective, and so improving balance isn’t going to be a one size fits all job. But I’ve put together a few tips to help you on your way.

IDENTIFY YOUR VALUES

First and foremost, I think it’s important to spend some time reflecting and considering where your values lie and what is important to you. Consider your current circumstances and resources, your belief systems, your future goals and expectations and how all of this links together to create your current values. Also remember that values can change, and that’s ok. I’ve have a huge shift in my values and beliefs over the last few years, which has hugely altered my life. There’s also nothing to say that those values won’t continue to adapt and change in the future as I gain more life experience and perspective.

TAKE STOCK OF YOUR ACTIONS

Take time to consider the activities that you participate in throughout the day/week. Consider which of these are non-negotiable and which are through choice and have the potential to be flexible. This, alongside your identified values will allow you to start creating a picture of what balance and imbalance looks like to you and how you can start to adapt or make any changes needed to work towards this.

SET YOUR INTENTIONS

Once you have a clear idea of where your values lie and what your daily/weekly activities look like, you can start to set some intentions around how you want to progress towards a more balanced lifestyle and work towards aligning your actions with you values. Your intentions don’t need to be huge, nor do you need to have multiple intentions if you don’t feel that this would be effective for you at the current time. If needs be, prioritise one intention and focus on working towards that, gradually adding further intentions when you feel you have the space to do so.

GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION

Balance is a journey and a potentially wobbly one at that. Give yourself permission to explore and take time to find out what balances/imbalances your life and how you might adapt or change this to align with your values and current circumstances.

REMEMBER: IT’S YOUR JOURNEY

As we’ve touched on throughout this post, balance is subjective and individual. Try not to let what others are doing or not doing influence what’s important to you and where you wish to progress to. It is up to you to create a balance of what is meaningful and important to YOU!

My Guide To Balance- My General Life


I hope that you will find this Pinterest friendly graphic helpful, if you hover over any of the images in my posts it gives you the option to save it to one of your Pinterest boards so that you can easily find or reference the post again in the future.

I have really enjoyed pulling a longer, more informative post together and putting some of my knowledge to good use. I hope that it’s helpful to have more information together in one place so that it’s easier to find and allows the post to become more of a guide than a discussion post.

Let's start a conversation:
I'd love to know how you try to promote balance in your life and how you work towards aligning your actions with your values.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below, or drop me a tweet @_hellojordan.










Thursday, 10 August 2017

RECIPE | Chocolate Doughnut Pudding [VEGAN].

You know when you just so happen to have food hanging about in your cupboards, bought in a moment of greed, but you begrudge the idea of it going to waste? Well it was from this moment that my chocolate doughnut pudding recipe was born.

You see, I just can't say no to vegan doughnuts. It's a problem. So, when I go to the Co-op and they have two packets sat there just waiting to be bought, I have to buy them both. The issue with this is that I then have to eat them both before they go stale, which, if you've ever bought Co-op doughnuts before, you know that they only really have a day before they start to go a bit firm.

And so here I am with 6 doughnuts staring at me, knowing that although I could eat them all before the turn into rocks, I probably shouldn’t. So, what do I do with them? Well, I look to my cupboards for inspiration. I knew I had some Oatly vanilla custard that really needed eating so with that I took to Pinterest for some inspiration.

By this point I had a vegan friendly bread and butter pudding style dessert idea in my mind, but honestly, Pinterest didn’t offer much in the way of vegan-spiration. I’ve never actually eaten bread and butter pudding before (shock horror), but I knew it was something to do with custard and bread and so my little brain decided to just replace the bread with doughnuts and hope for the best.

Now I’m not one to toot my own trumpet, but this was definitely one of the best ideas I’ve had in a long time. Think squishy doughnuts and oozy chocolatey custard all bubbling away together. I will admit, I was slightly worried that the jam centres would be a bit odd with the chocolate, but there was really no need to be as it added a delightful syrupy stickiness to the whole deal. I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Plus, no word of a lie, this recipe is so easy. It can be pulled together in less than 5 minutes and makes for a delicious post dinner treat, it’s even better served alongside vegan ice cream. I mean, you could make your own vegan custard, but honestly, I’m just far too lazy. There are days when I just want an easy life and to get my sweet fix with minimal effort, and this recipe is for one of those days.

Chocolate Doughnut Pudding [VEGAN] - My General Life


WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
(serves 4, or 3 extra hungry folk)

♥ 6 vegan doughnuts (I use Coop)
♥ Oatly vanilla custard
♥ 75ml plant milk
♥ ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
♥ 50g dark chocolate chips

WHAT TO DO:

♥ Preheat the oven to 180°c
♥ Chop the doughnuts into quarters, I found a slightly serrated knife is best for not squirting too much of the jam out. Place in an oven proof dish.
♥ Sprinkle over half of the dark chocolate chips.
♥ Mix together the Oatly vanilla custard, plant mil and cinnamon and pour over the top of the doughnuts.
♥ Leave to sit for 10 minutes before sprinkling the remaining chocolate chips on top.
♥ Place in the oven for around 30 minutes – the custard should be lovely and bubbly.
♥ Serve with a scoop of vegan friendly ice cream.

Chocolate Doughnut Pudding [VEGAN] - My General Life


Did I, or did I not tell that this was really easy? Literally, 5 ingredients with 5 minutes of prep time. Plus, anyone who tries it will think that you’ve definitely made an effort. I'm pretty sure they'll also be picking their jaw up from the floor when you tell them that, in fact, no animals were harmed in the making. What a winning combination!

Let’s start a conversation:

I hope that if you try this recipe that you’ll give me a shout on Instagram (@_hellojordan) or drop me a tweet @_hellojordan – I love to chat with you so please do let me know if you’ve stopped by!

Monday, 7 August 2017

My Ultimate Self Care Guide.


My Ultimate Self Care Guide [My General Life]


I feel like there's been a bit of a boom in people talking about self care recently. Or maybe it's because the people I choose to surround myself with on social media also care about self care. Either way, it's great as it means people are focusing on it and, hopefully, making it more of a priority. Because self care should be a priority. Each and everyone of us, I believe, needs to invest in taking care of ourselves in order to give out to the world. But you see, it's not always as easy as that is it? 

I thought it might be helpful to put together my own little self care guide as it's something I deal with everyday in my "real life job" - I'm an occupational therapist and so our whole ethos is around supporting people to engage in their self-care, productivity and leisure occupations. 

But, you see, I've been reflecting on self-care a lot lately as I found myself a little blinkered and reductionist in my view of self care. Maybe I've been viewing it with too much of a clinical head on. Maybe I've just been too caught up within the limits of my role and so have strayed away from viewing self care from a more holistic angle. Because self care is so much more than just getting washed and dressed and feeding and watering yourself.


WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF SELF CARE?



Many definitions of self care come from a medical or health care perspective. In 2013, the World Health Organisation defined self care as "the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health-care provider”. Which, if you ask me, seems to be very much focused on health, illness and disability. But, then again, it is the World Health Organisation, which, you know, has the role of looking out for health. So I kind of get that. 

On looking for other definitions of self care, many of them seem to focus on the prevention of illness or disability. I know the WHO definition touches on an individuals ability to cope with illness or disability, but so many people don't have a choice when it comes to their health. Don't get me wrong, I'm aware that there are many illnesses that are preventable and I'm all for health promotion around that. But some people really don't have any control over the development or onset of illness or disability; so on that vein, does that mean that they're not self caring? Or not self caring enough to prevent themselves from becoming unwell, even if it's entirely out of their control? I don't know about you, but that thought feels a little ableist to me.

I personally feel that self care is more holistic than that. Yes it's about promoting and maintaining health and wellbeing, but within that self care is restorative. It's deliberate. It's an experience. It's predominantly for you, but ultimately it's for others too, because without self care, how can we continue to give to others? We have to fill up the cup if we're going to continue sharing the wine (or other non alcoholic beverage). 

Yes, self care is about meeting your basic needs in terms of making sure you’re eating well, hydrating, keeping yourself clean, getting enough sleep and exercising, alongside other health promoting activities. But it’s also about those activities that are meaningful to you as an individual. That top your cup up. Be it having 5 minutes of quiet to enjoy a chapter in your favourite book, or taking a hot bath, or spending time with your best friend/partner/family. These activities aren’t necessarily considered “health promoting” in health care terms,  but they’re health promoting if they’re important to you. Self care will have different definitions for different people. We’re all unique and what constitutes self care for one may well be the total opposite of self care to another, the differences may be small, but there will surely be differences there.

It’s important to take some time to reflect on what self care means to you. Is self care a priority? Or is it an activity that often gets put on the backburner in favour of other “more important” tasks?

Why does that happen?

What stops you from engaging in self care?


WHAT IMPACTS ONES ABILITY TO SELF CARE?



I guess the answer is that a multitude of factors can impact on one’s ability to self care. Prioritising oneself can, at the best of times, be a really hard ask. Why? Because maybe you feel you don’t deserve it. Or maybe you feel so much pressure to keep pushing for that next life goal that you lose sight of the fact that your life goal is dependent on you being cared for and able to strive for it.

Self care doesn’t have to be a big task, but for some it can feel like climbing Mount Everest. Be it down to mental or physical health difficulties, socio-economic circumstances, difficulties with self esteem, lack of motivation, a lack of time or resources – the list could go on.

Whatever the barriers are, if improving self care is your goal then it’s important to think about why those barriers are stopping you and what you could do to start to break them down. Now that’s not an overnight job, and I’m aware it doesn’t make it feel any less like climbing Mount Everest. So I guess the next step is to think about how you can improve and promote self care in your life.


WHAT PROMOTES POSITIVE SELF CARE?



Self care in its essence, I feel, is a deliberate act. A deliberate act that you choose to try to take control over. To take ownership of, because no one can fully own it for you. Yes, others can help, but as we’ve discussed, self care is very much about what’s important to you.

So what promotes good self care? I think first and foremost it’s about taking responsibility for what you can contribute to your own self care. It doesn’t have to be something huge and it doesn’t have to be all singing and all dancing. Depending on your circumstances, it could even be the smallest of tasks. But the most important thing is that it’s yours. You own it and are responsible for it. It’s what you can do for you.

Once you start taking notice of your self care and taking responsibility for what you can, you notice how it can have a positive impact on your overall health and wellbeing. I think the most important thing is that you keep just topping up the cup, little by little, just doing what you can, when you can. I’ve been trying to focus more energy on self care of late, and what I’ve personally noticed is that the more I prioritise self care and make the time for it, the more I want to continue prioritising self care. And I’m honestly reaping the rewards; my mood is better and I’m more motivated and energised. I’m doing so much more, but I don’t feel even a little burnt out because I’m ensuring that I look after myself first.

If self care is a struggle for you at any time, once your basic needs are met turn your focus to simple, restorative activities, be it spending an extra half hour in bed, listening to your favourite song or taking a moment to enjoy a nice, hot cup of tea. I can’t reiterate enough that even the smallest of self care activities are worthwhile. Rome wasn’t built in a day, ya know? It was built a brick at a time.


SOME SELF CARE ADVICE.



Ask questions.
Start by asking yourself some basic questions:

  • Where do your values lie in relation to self care?
  • Why do you want to engage in more self care activities?
  • How can you align your values and needs with your current ability to engage?
Physically write the answers down if it’s helpful. Try to get yourself into the mindset where self care takes more of a priority.


Find what works.
I’ve mentioned this several times already throughout this post, but self care should be about what works for you. What’s meaningful for you. It’s great to try different or new things, but it’s also absolutely fine to stick with what you know. The main thing is that is works for you.


Routine.
Routine is your friend. It might feel effortful developing a new self care routine at first, but once you’ve taken the time to establish your own habits and routines, self care will feel much more a part of how you go about your day.

I’ve been using a habit tracker in my bullet journal to keep track of those activities that I want to ensure I’m taking regular time for, such as drinking 2 litres of water per day, exercising 3 times per week and doing my Peak brain training app every day.

Although try not to drastically change your entire routine overnight. Choosing one or two self care activities to focus on at a time will likely be more effective and help ensure that your routine is not only achievable, but sustainable too.


Say no.
Learn how to say no to things that don't serve your self care mission. Not always the easiest of tasks, but so important if you’re focusing your attention on yourself and prioritising your health and wellbeing. You don’t have to say no to everything, but at least consider the impact that a certain activity might have and if it has the possibility to be detrimental to your wellness.


Be deliberate.
Remember, self care is a deliberate act. One that you can take ownership and responsibility of. You hold it in the palm of your hand and you have the ability to help it flourish, even if you don’t fully realise it yet.


And the most important point of all : self care is not selfish. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


SELF CARE IDEAS.


My Ultimate Self Care Guide [My General Life]

[don't forget, you can hover over this image to pin it - it'll help you to find this post whenever you need it!]

Remember, this is nowhere near an exhaustive list, just a few ideas to get you started and on your way to making self care more of a priority.

If you’ve made it to the end of this post – give yourself a pat on the back! I hope you’ve enjoyed some longer, more in depth content from me. If you found value in this post, I’d really appreciate it if you’d give it a little shout out or share on social media so we can spread the message and get more people focusing on improving their health and wellbeing through self care.

Let’s start a conversation:
Why not drop me a tweet @_hellojordan to let me know your definition of self care or to share some of your top self care tips.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

RECIPE | Biscoff Cupcakes [VEGAN].

If you read about my favourite accidentally vegan foods in one of my recent posts, then you will probably have noted that biscoff spread (a.k.a vegan crack) had made it's way in there. I don't know what they put in that stuff that makes it so delicious and SO MOREISH, I could easily demolish a jar in one sitting.

And you know that I also love cake, so it's really only a natural progression that I would merge these two loves of mine eventually and give biscoff cakes a try. Let me tell you, I'm sold. They're not overly biscoff-y, but there's definitely those yummy caramelised notes that make biscoff so irresistible. I'm telling you now that you won't be able to eat just one!

I've also put together a little Instagram video showing you the method for the cakes, so if you want any more clarification, I'd love it if you popped over and gave it a watch @_hellojordan. Anyway, you're here for a recipe so we should probably get to it!


[hover over this image to pin it - this mean you can easily find the recipe in the future!]

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
(makes approx 16 cupcakes)

CUPCAKES:
♥ 220g self raising flour
♥ 200g caster sugar
♥ 200ml plant milk
♥ 20ml apple cider vinegar
♥ 80ml flavourless oil (e.g. rapeseed, vegetable)
♥ 1/4 tsp bicabonate of soda
♥ 1/4 tsp baking powder
♥ 1/4 tsp salt
♥ 1 tbsp vanilla extract
♥ 150g biscoff spread, melted

ICING:
♥ 60g biscoff spread
♥ 40g vegetable shortening e.g. Trex
♥ 500g icing sugar, sifted
♥ 1 tbsp vanilla extract
♥ 4-6 tbsp plant milk (depending on texture)
♥ crumbled biscuits (ideally biscoff, however, I used ginger biscuits)


WHAT TO DO:

♥ 
Start by preheating the oven to 180c and lining the cupcake tin with cases.
♥ Add the ACV to the plant milk and leave to curdle for 5-10 minutes (gross, but necessary)
♥ Then add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix well.
♥ Add the oil and vanilla extract to the plant milk/ACV combo and pop the biscoff spread in the microwave for 30-60 seconds to melt.
♥ Add the wet ingredients (excluding the biscoff) into the dry ingredients and mix quickly with a metal spoon.
♥ Then add the melted biscoff on top and gently marble through the batter.
♥ Spoon the cupcake batter into the cases and pop into the oven for around 15-18 minutes (or until a skewer/knife comes out clear)
♥ TOP TIP: Bang the cupcake tin fairly hard on the work surface before putting the cake in the oven, this removes any air bubbles formed when the raising agents react with the liquid and tries to ensure the cake rise where they're supposed to - in the oven!
♥ To prepare the icing, beat together the biscoff spread and vegetable shortening until softened.
♥ Sift in half the icing sugar and 2-3 tbsp of plant milk and the vanilla extract.
♥ Beat gently until combined before ramping up the intensity to ensure a good mix.
♥ Sift in the remaining icing sugar and add a further 2-3 tbsp of plant milk (how much will depend on the current texture and how soft you want the icing).
♥ Again, beat slowly before ramping it up to ensure all the sugar is thoroughly mixed in.
♥ Scoop into a piping bag with whatever nozzle you fancy.
♥ TOP TIP: I find that if I place my piping bag in a large glass e.g. pint glass and fold the top of the bag over the edge of the glass, it makes it far easier to fill the bag, plus you have a solid edge to scrape the icing off with.
♥ Ice away in whatever pattern or design you desire.

♥ Top with crumbled biscuits and ENJOY (best served with a cuppa if you ask me!)


I'm trying really hard to up my photography and visual content game so I do hope you like the photos and video I've put together to go with the recipe - please let me know what you think or if you've got any ideas of other recipes or Instagram videos that you'd like to see. If you do give them a whirl, please do let me know how you got on by share your photos with me using #mygenerallife or dropping me a tweet @_hellojordan.