Black Seed Oil

What is black seed oil?

The black seed oil is extracted from the seeds of Nigella Sativa, a plant native to southwest Asia. It goes by many names including:

  • Black cumin seed oil
  • Kalonji oil
  • Nigella sativa oil

You may be familiar with the Nigella seed that you can find in the spice isle in your local supermarket. Nigella seeds are often used as a popular ingredient in middle eastern and Indian cuisine. The key part of the plant that you get all the benefits from is thymoquinone which has high antioxidant properties.

Black seed oil has been used for centuries in food, medicine and even cosmetics.

Nigella Sativa

The Taste

Black seed oil has a strong a bitter taste. To avoid this harsh taste, you can dilute with water, sugar or agave.

Where To Buy

You can purchase black seed oil in most health food stores. I bought mine on Amazon and I’m very impressed. As you can see in the link, I purchased the oil, but you can also but it in capsule form, lotions, makeup and all sorts of beauty products.

Black Seed Oil

Benefits of black seed oil

  • Weight loss

In many parts of the work black Nigella sativa seeds are used as traditional medicine for obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

An 8-week study conducted on obese people showed the individuals taking black seed oil had a reduced waist circumference, less body fat and overall weight loss.

  • Eczema, Acne and Psoriasis

Black seed oil has been shown to be just as effective as Benzoyl – a common medication for skin related diseases.

Black seed oil has been used since the times of Cleopatra in ancient Egypt. This was a secret remedy that gave her radiant skin.

  • Cancer

A study conducted on rats has shows that black seed oil can shrink tumors as well as protect tissues from radiation damage.

  • Infertility

Studies in both men and rats have shown to increase sperm count and increase speed at which the sperm can swim. Antioxidants in the black seed oil is likely responsible for protecting the sperm from damage.

  • Allergies

If you place tiny oil drops in the nose these daily this can assist with the cure to Hay Fever.

Side effects and risks

  • Slows Blood Clotting

Black seed oil can increase drowsiness, lower blood sugar and slow down blood clotting. If going for surgery, it is probably best to avoid black seed oil during this time as it may increase the risk of bleeding. Best advice would be to stop taking it at least two weeks prior to your surgery.

  • Prescription medication

Always check with a doctor if you are taking some form of medication as you never know if there could be a negative effect to you. Specifically watch out for beta-blockers and blood thinners.

  • Upset stomach

Too much black seed oil can cause the laxative effect. This can be very uncomfortable and can cause severe diarrhea. This can be avoided by taking a small dose.

Personal Experience:

I have been using black seed oil for a few weeks now. I only have a quarter if a cap full mixed with a shot of water. I take it as a shot at any time in the day (whenever I remember to do so). My aim was to take it every day, but I quickly reduced this, explanation to come.

I don’t suffer from skin issues so I cannot vouch for the acne and spot healing properties that it has as I have only taken it orally.

The reason I immediately stopped taking black seed oil every day is that is it is a natural laxative. If you have constipation this would be an excellent cure, however if you have no issues in this area please beware. As I am already vegan and eat lots of natural wholefoods, fruits and vegetables I already consume more than the recommended amount of fiber so adding a laxative on top is a dangerous game. Just be weary if you don’t want to spend most of your day on the toilet. I decided to cut down to consuming just 2-3 times a week and that works perfectly for me.

A couple of times I’ve felt like I may be coming down with a cold or sore throat. I took black seed oil that evening and woke up feeling completely back to normal. Normally if I feel like I’m coming down with something the next day I feel awful. Even if you don’t want to take it every day, I recommend having some stored away for emergencies. I think taking a cap full before sleeping simple helped boost my immune system to help fight any virus or infection.

black caraway seeds nigella sativa

Top 10 Tips to Help you on your Vegan Journey

  1. Join Vegan Groups on Facebook

There are so many great support groups available on Facebook. These groups are full of thousands of people just like you who are going through just what you are. It’s like a small online community where you can ask questions on veganism, share recipes, and share your own advice. For someone starting out this is a great support network and I really learnt a lot.

Facebook pages that I can recommend are:

  • Veganuary
  • Vegan recipes for beginners
  • Vegan intermittent fasting for women
  • Sebi Alkaline and electric foods
  • Vegan beginners 101
  • Plant based eating
  • Keto vegan and vegetarian for beginners
  • Whole food plant based

VEGAN SUPPORT GROUP

  1. Buy a vegan cookbook or search recipes online

If you’re not into social media or simply want an alternative way to search for recipes you can do so online or buy a book. At the start people tend to focus on what they miss, maybe it’s the lack of chocolate cake and chicken nuggets making you want to go back to your original diet. A good way to get over those craving is to search a vegan recipe for what you already love. What I have learnt is there is next to nothing that doesn’t have a vegan alternative:

VEGAN RECIPE

  1. Watch documentaries to remind yourself why you are doing this

Everyone has hard days and food can be very comforting. It can seem a lot easier to go back to what you know and enjoy. When you change to do something new, this is a normal feeling, so don’t feel bad on yourself. The best thing you can do is educate yourself further on why you made this change initially.

Here are some documentaries that I have watched since becoming vegan. Please beware that the animal videos are particularly upsetting and not for the faint hearted. I really applaud the amazing people who took the time to make these as I can only imagine how awful it must have been. These documentaries spread awareness to people who have no idea what is going on and hopefully convert many people to veganism.

  • Dairy is Scary – YouTube
  • What the Health – Netflix
  • Cowspiracy – Netflix
  • Earthlings – YouTube
  • Dominion – YouTube

VEGAN DOCUMENTARY

  1. Don’t put pressure on yourself and give in to the pressure of others – this is your personal journey

I doubt any vegan woke up one morning and threw out everything that contained animals’ products in their house. I am not just speaking about food but also clothes, toiletries, makeup, furniture etc I just think this is unnecessary waste as you have already purchased the items and would be financially impractical (unless you have loads of money).

Whether you had planned to go vegan for month or if you suddenly decided overnight, this is your life and your decision, and you do this in the best possible way for you. Whatever you do, and however you’re doing it, the most important thing is that you’re making a difference. What matters is that your choices are protecting animals daily, protecting the planet and protecting your own body. You do not have to stop everything in one go.

I was able to cut the animal products in food straight away but in regard to clothing I am still learning – it’s not always as simple as avoiding leather products and there are so many glues and chemicals found in the items we purchase that are derived from animal products. All I can recommend is that you do things in your own time, as when you do, your setting yourself up for success. You will come across many people on the same journey as you but are most likely at completely different stages of the journey. Let’s all create a positive environment where we can share and help others.

PERSONAL jOURNEY

  1. Follow food pages on Instagram and Pinterest to make your supermarket shop easier

There are so many AMAZING vegan Instagram pages sharing a variety of options to help us. Loads of pages have great food inspiration, I’m sure we can now make anything all you have to type in is #VEGAN(FOOD TYPE) and thousands of recipes and videos will come up.

I also follow Accidentallyveganuk which has been an absolute life saver. This page reposts instastories and posts of others who have found accidently vegan products in the local UK supermarkets. This is so helpful as means you don’t need to trail though ingredients of every single product you find on the shelves. In my first month of turning vegan I went to Milan and was very worried about what I would be able to eat. Luckily it was easier than I thought but when I got to the airport, I had a couple of minutes to grab something before boarding the plane. Luckily, I spotted Oreos which had been featured on accidentallyveganuk so I immediately knew they were vegan and could quickly buy them.

VEGAN SOCIAL MEDIA

  1. Look at the menu in advance before booking a restaurant

When I get invited out to a restaurant the first thing, I do is check their online menu. Some restaurants don’t label their options clearly with VG so in that case it’s best to email in advance. There are very few places I have been unable to attend as I can normally find at least one option or put together some sides to create a main. The only time I’ve had difficulty is with set menu’s such as brunches, I normally am unable to get my monies worth as I can only eat one item. I am positive that within time restaurants will improve this.

VEGAN RESTAURANT

  1. Don’t assume that you will automatically be healthier if you go vegan

I think back in the day; you probably wouldn’t have to work too hard to keep healthy and on top of your weight as there used to be hardly any vegan options. Vegans would mainly only have wholefoods, fruits and vegetables as an option – so vegan = top of your health game. Nowadays, I am not complaining, but there are so many options and many of these options consist of vegan junk food. In my first month of going vegan I put on weight trying all the delicious junk food options and going to all these cool trendy restaurants. I have reigned it in now and focus a lot more on a healthy balanced diet. It’s just great to know that you have similar options as everyone else now.

VEGAN JUNK FOOD

  1. Your taste buds and craving will change

Obviously, if you have been eating meat and dairy almost every day for 20 + years you will be used to the taste and go into withdrawal when you stop consuming it. This is normal, but just like anything else, (such as getting up early or going to the gym), you must be determined to achieve what you set yourself out to do.

Most people struggle with cheese as this is highly addictive. More so than most of you probably realise. There are scientific studies that have proven that cheese can trigger the same parts of the brain as hard drugs – no surprise there then that you can’t stop thinking about those mozzarella sticks.

My answer to this is, where there is a will there is a way, and there are always lots of lovely dairy alternatives. I was very impressed with Papa John’s vegan pizzas and pizza express. Just because you’re vegan it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice once loved foods from your diet completely.

VEGAN EDUCATION

  1. Educate yourself

As you learn more you tend to get less shocked about things that contain animal products and realise how essential it is to read the ingredients on any new items you find. Never Assume its vegan. Here are some of the items that contain animal products that shocked me:

  • Wine – Some wine companies use animal products like egg whites, fish bladder and gelatine to filter their liquids – Gross
  • Beer – same as above goes for beer companies – eww
  • Bloody Mary cocktails – this cocktail weirdly often contains anchovies. How unappetising.
  • Salted Peanuts – many packeted salted peanut brands contain milk powder.
  • Crisps – again milk powder
  • Lactose free almond cheeses – despite the lactose free that probably attracted you in the first place, this product can often contain casein which is a cow’s milk protein.
  • Sugar – some white sugar is bleached with bone char – yuk
  • Vitamin D3 (a common food additive) – this food additive is made with a substance derived from sheep’s wool.

EDUCATION

  1. Take and research into supplements to ensure you get a varied and balanced diet

As I have a thyroid problem, I regularly get blood tests, and this highlights any deficiencies I may have. It has been highlighted (before going vegan) that I have lower calcium than most people. I take one calcium tablet daily along with Lysine to ensure that my calcium levels remain up where they should. The lysine helps facilitate the transportation of the calcium into the muscles. Many people assume that I have a calcium deficiency because I don’t drink milk – this couldn’t be further from the truth as calcium is added to plant-based milks anyway and often in high doses. There are studies that have proved that those who consume dairy have weaker bones than those who don’t – I bet that surprised you.

Two weeks after my vegan transition I noticed that I felt extremely tired, it was suggested that this could be due to a lack of B12, so I went out to purchase a B-Complex multivitamin and within a few days felt much better. I take a mixed B vitamin supplement which consists of a mix of B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12. You can also try and get additional B12 naturally but eating marmite and nutritional yeast.

VEGAN SUPPLEMENTS

I hope this list helps you on your vegan journey.

Instagram @keziakco

xxx

Vegan in Vienna – Travelling in Austria on a vegan plant-based diet.

I travelled to Austria on February 14th-18th 2019 for a 5-day city break in Vienna. I have noticed that I feel a little anxious when travelling as I really don’t know what I will be able to eat when I arrive and how many options I’ll have. Being health conscious, a week of fries and bread makes me feel sick but at the same time I really don’t want to be forced into eating animal products.

I clearly hadn’t researched properly as it was only after returning from my trip that I discovered Austria is one of the most vegan friendly countries in the world, so lucky me.

I would have loved to have come across a blog like this to read before I left on holiday so I thought I would this for future vegan travellers. If you are off to Vienna on holiday you have nothing to worry about, you may even come back a few pounds heavier than you left.

Here is a descriptive list of all the restaurants that I visited and the food I’ve eaten whilst I was away in Austria.

 

Do&Co Hotel ££££

This was our first dinner in Vienna. As it was valentine’s day it was pretty hard to get a table at a normal time, so we decided to eat at 11pm. The restaurant wasn’t that busy when we arrived, and we were given a table close to the window, so we had a complete view on Stephansplatz and the cathedral. This is not a vegan restaurant, and when mentioning that I was vegan, they were not phased at all. There were a few options on the menu, but I decided to go with the vegetable and tofu wok and rice with a starter of vegetable sushi.

When ordering the vegetable wok, you must go up to the chef’s counter and select your own vegetables – you help yourself and can put as much or as little onto your plate and then pass it over to the chef to cook and the rice comes on the side.

I was full after the meal – was delicious 10/10.

do&co hotel

 

Swing Kitchen £

Found on the HappyCow app.

If you feel like junk food this is the place to go. It’s totally vegan, a yummier and better version of McDonalds SO TASTY! One of my faves but not good for your weight at all. I would probably be obese if there was one down my road.

We went here twice. First time I had a burger and salad and dink meal deal for under 10,00 EUR – so decent. Second time I had a ‘chicken’ nugget salad and drink.

The only downside is that you have to pay 80 cents for sauce but who cares.

If I return to Vienna at some point I will 1000% go back for more.

swing-kitchen-1.jpg

swing kitchen meal

Deli Bluem £££

Found on the HappyCow app.

This was another of my favourites. It is tucked away down a little residential road next to a park. They have indoor and outdoor seating and is clearly very popular as we were advised we only had an hour until the next lot of people were to arrive.

The restaurant is buffet style and everything they have on offer is 100% vegan and 100% organic. They charge 17,00EUR for brunch which includes unlimited portions of everything that is out. The menu is of course in German but as you can go and pick and choose this wasn’t an issue.

They have a lovely array of salads, cereals, milks, porridge, breads, dips, spreads and drinks. I decided to give everything a try and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, my favourite was these grass-like greens. So tasty, god knows what it was, but the taste was out of this world.

As one dish empties, they replace it with a new one, so you get to try a large variety of dishes. You can also see them being prepared from scratch which is a pleasant touch.

The café is also dog friendly.

Deli Bluem

Deli Bluem deliicious vegan food

Deli Bluem vegan brunch

Semmering ski resort ££

Food wise, this was a vegan nightmare. In terms of actual vegan options, there were chips and water – not great. We tried various restaurants (sorry can’t remember the names) but in all honesty they had pretty much the same options. We settled for one and ordered what was called ‘vegetarian vegetable pizza’ without cheese obviously and fries. The fries were decent and as you would expect, but the pizza was very unusual to say the least. Out came a cheese less pizza with vegetables, but nothing what you would expect to be on a pizza. Let’s just say, this was my first pizza with mange tout, carrots, CAULIFLOWER and peppers (at least they got one vegetable right). A very strange combo, it was edible, but I would never consider reordering.

semmering

Veggiezz £

Found on the HappyCow app.

This restaurant is labelled as a fast food vegan restaurant. I was delighted to find there were many healthy options as well as the standard burger and chips.

I went for vegetable rolls and pumpkin soup. Really big, healthy and filling portions. Just what you hope to receive wen you order food. Absolutely delicious and food labelled low card and high protein! This restaurant is 100% vegan.

Superfood Deli ££

Found on the HappyCow app

A really great spot for brunch. Think fancy acai bowls, drinks in jars and an instrammable atmosphere.

The portions are large and way more filling than they look. I would say this is a health freaks heaven.

The only downside is that it is tiny (around 4 seats) so we were very lucky to get one.

This place is tucked away down a little alley s not the easiest to find but worth it if you do.

Superfood deli

Dens Biomarkt £££

This is a bio supermarket located just up the street from our hotel. It was an absolute dream – for a vegan anyway. They even had a totally vegan section with a wide range of products but also throughout the shop it would be rare if you were unable to find a vegan option for that item.

It was extremely handy having this so close by (around 100m away) as we could pick up stacks and drinks whenever we were hungry. Why do we not have such vegan friendly supermarkets in the UK?

I went all out and bought a variety of chocolate to bring back to the UK.

Annie’s Broselei £

Found on the HappyCow app.

Just a simple vegan bakery with about 4-5 cakes to choose from. I went for an apricot sponge cake like the fatty I am. The cake was lovely and reasonably priced at 3,5EUR I was able to do takeaway which was handy, and they put the cake into a cute little box for you and provide wooden forks. I would say, if you are hoping to sit down and relax this is highly unlikely as it is TINY. About 5 people can fit inside and when I arrived it was completely full. This wasn’t as issue as it was lovely and sunny outside.

The café is also dog friendly.

Café Gagarin £

Found on the HappyCow app.

This café is not 100% vegan. It is vegetarian with multiple vegan options.

Probably my least favourite meal, yes, even worse than the mountain resort. It was a very odd and unique experience and I don’t want to judge it too negatively as it was only one dish that I found unappetising.

It’s hard to find, I think we walk past it about 4 times. Hidden away and looks like an office, you walk in and it’s like a biker/ rock inspired looking space. Clearly musically inspired, there are records, stickers and rock magazines scattered around along. The café is particularly unusual as there are no prices for the mains. This is a pay-as- you- think café so you pay what you think is reasonable. In London this would have been easy but as foreigners we had no idea what would be deemed as acceptable. Luckily, they had a suggested price at the end, and I was relieved to realise I wasn’t stingy as was planning to pay £10 over the suggested price.

Went for the tofu scramble with toast each and large hummus and bread to share. Hummus was clearly home made and tasted lovely and fresh, but the tofu scramble is what really let it down. They had generously prepared a whole block of tofu EACH for us (way too much). This had not been drained and so was swimming in water (gross) and not to mention the lack of seasoning and million pieces of onion. My advice would be not to write off this café, but they clearly are not good at cooking tofu so whatever you do, do not go for that.

Café Gagarin vegan breakfast

Café Gagarin

Das Loft ££££

When in Vienna why wouldn’t you want to go and check out the fanciest restaurant, I was on holiday after all and the views looked amazing. I can confirm its lovely in the evening with a few right across the city. If you’re afraid of heights it may not be for you as it is located on the 18th floor.

Whilst looking at the menu in advance there was nothing labelled but I assumed, given the status of the restaurant there must be an option or something the chef could whip up.

On arrival and mentioning that I would be interested in the vegan options I was offered the option of one starter and one main. Please note, nothing is vegan, but they can adapt these two dishes for you.

Starter – Beetroot selection

Main – Celery selection

When presented with the bread to start, the waitress said, ‘before you ask, it is vegan’. I thought that was a big rude but never mind. The beetroot selection was minimal but tasty and the celery that followed was unusual but very good. Both dishes were extremely well presented.

I think I left hungry, but I believe that is a reflection on the restaurant a whole and not the vegan options. It is fancy, and expensive so to be expected. The waiter mentioned that due to popular demand the chef is creating more vegan dishes to put on the menu, and these will be available from the summer onwards.

I feel this restaurant is more about the experience and the view rather than the food. Go if you’re visiting from abroad as it is worth it for the view alone.

Airport ££

Arriving at the airport, there were not loads of options immediately obviously available. Decided to just pop into the first café (sorry don’t know the name) and just assume that there won’t be much to eat, and there wasn’t. A sandwich, chips or a fruit salad, to be honest this didn’t bother me as I had very low expectations anyway. I went for the sandwich with hummus and Mediterranean vegetables. It did the job, no frills food but grateful that there was at least something.

Vienna Aiport vegan snack

If you have any other recommendations or personal experience of the restaurants listed above, please let me know.

Instagram @keziakco

xxx

 

Veganuary – living 6 days on a vegan diet

veganuary

Before everyone starts ranting and raving about what defines vegan, I am not living the complete vegan lifestyle which I know includes involves living a completely cruelty free lifestyle. I am purely testing out the health benefits from the vegan diet – food and drink only here.

As you can see from my blog, I am very into health and fitness and diet has always been very important to me. Saying that, I often indulge in meat, fish and dairy daily. In fact, I don’t think there are many days at all that I have been without all these food groups until now of course.

This has been a challenge and a bit of a shock to the system, but all is well so far and I’m even enjoying it.

First things first – essential preparation:

  • State of mind

You must be mentally ready to start this diet just as you do with any diet. They always say that starting something on a Monday or first of the month means it’s more likely that you will stick to it. I started on Saturday the 5th of January and enjoyed a Domino’s pizza on the 1st of Jan (don’t judge me).

  • Education

Before starting what some people might think of as an extreme diet, education is the key! I encourage you to read books, search the internet or pick up a magazine and understand what you are getting yourself into. Learn about the benefits to health and the environment and any negative impacts. There are some good documentaries on Netflix, I watched ‘What the Health’ and ‘Cowspiracy’.

  • The food shop

I decided I can’t go into this without having all the tools to help me. The last thing you want is to be starving and have nothing tasty that you can eat. This will just set you up to fail and you will immediately start eating what you were before or become ill.

I did my food shop in my local Tesco, now after speaking to other Vegans it is probably the worst choice in supermarket for vegan products. People keep recommending Sainsbury’s, so I’ll give that a go on my next shop.

What I bought:

  • Pomegranate
  • Red cabbage
  • Beet root
  • Tesco Free From Vegan Cheese
  • Jus-Rol vegan puff pastry
  • Linda McCartney 2 deep dish country pies
  • Strong Roots Spinach and Pumpkin Burgers
  • 5 Alpro Go On Mango Yogurt Alternative
  • Oat milk
  • Miso Soup

Total – Just under £20

The trick is to prepare your meals in advance. Know what you have in your cupboards and if you may need to pop to the shops before you get home. Make enough dinner so that you can take the left over for dinner the next day. As the world is learning more about veganism more places are accommodating for the diet. I have been able to find some lovely lunches to buy at work but that may be because I’m based in central London where you can find anything. Itsu is one of my faves with an extensive vegan range to choose from, and just to make it easier its about 20 meters from my office.

I made an absolutely delicious cauliflower tabbouleh, roast sweet  potato and spicy red kidney bean dish featured in the image below. Yum to mindful eating!

vegan dinner

If you love eating out and live in the London area check out vegan restaurant Mildred’s, they even have a bottomless brunch! Have a read of my review for more information.

Today is my 6th day as a vegan and I’m feeling fine and I can carry out the same activities as before.

Negatives

  • Bloated

Day 3 was the worst for me. I put on my gym leggings and I can honestly say I looked pregnant. I think it’s just due to my body getting used to me drinking triple the amount of water that I’m used to and 1 million vegetables. It’s a change to the body so I’m hoping over time this will go away and ill be back to normal. Many people say that they are less bloated, I guess this is just a great example of everyone being different and having a unique experience.

  • Tired

I was feeling very tired and lazy with no motivation to do anything. Now this could be to do with the change in diet, but you also must bear in mind that I have only just returned to work after almost two weeks of eating and doing nothing over Christmas. It could just as easily be the change in routine or both. As I read that the vegan diet can make you feel sluggish due to the lack of B vitamins found in meat I decided to buy a supplement. I went to Holland and Barrett’s and bought Nature’s Way ALIVE! B-complex. They are soft jell multi-vitamins including vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12. They claim to help your energy release, boost vitamin C and reduce tiredness and fatigue. They taste like low sugar gummy bears and are of course vegan. I’ve been taking these for the last couple of days and I feel much better.

alive vegan b vitamin supplements

If you want to try the vegan diet I recommend stocking up on these. As mentioned, you can get them in Holland and Barrett’s for £14.99 and currently they have a sale buy 1 get one for 1 p – excellent deal.

If you don’t live close to Holland and Barrett, you can also find these on Amazon by CLICKING HERE.

Positives

  • No cravings for meat

I can honestly say I have not once felt this dying need to eat any kind of meat. I do think about steak from time to time, but I never really ate it apart form when I went to a restaurant anyway. I now have the option to select things that I wouldn’t normally be interested in and learn many new recipes and flavours.

  • No stuffed feeling after a meal, even an extremely large one

Normally I don’t eat between the hours of 1 pm-8 pm as after lunch I don’t have a snack, I travel home from work and go straight to the gym. By the time I’ve showered and prepared for the next day its 8pm and dinner time. By this time, I am starving and eat a huge dinner of everything I can get my hands on. Usually after this I am stuffed! This very full feeling is something we are accustomed to and I didn’t even notice it until I had the absence of it. I’ve still been eating in the same pattern, but I suppose my food just digests easier and quicker.

  • Trying new recipes and foods

I find it so much fun browsing the supermarkets for unusual healthy products and finding ways to incorporate them into my diet. I love cooking and looking up new recipes, so it has been great for me so far. I’ve had the opportunity to book new restaurants – Tell Your Friends (blog post coming soon) and new recipe book – Joe Wicks Veggie Meals with Workouts. It’s all exciting stuff in the name of health.

  • Cheaper

6 days on and I still haven’t had to return to the supermarket. You can season vegetables just as you would meat, so you still get loads of variation. Vegetables are cheaper than meat in general which makes for a healthy, ethical and money saving lifestyle.

This week I’ve managed to burn 1700 calories in two gym sessions so as you can tell my fitness isn’t deteriorating. I still feel able to get enough energy together for a solid workout.

You can buy vegan products in all the supermarkets:

  • Tesco – increased range for Veganuary
  • Sainsburys – Increased range for Veganuary
  • Asda – Increased range for Veganuary
  • Morrisons – clearly labelling all its own brand products that are vegan
  • Waitrose – has a dedicated vegan section
  • Iceland – dedicated vegan freezer section
  • Marks and Spencer – increased range for Veganuary

 

You can sign up to receive a free meal plan from the official Veganuary site here – https://veganuary.com/

I recommend purchasing the Joe Wicks Vegetarian cook book and substituting any non-vegan products. You can buy that bye CLICKING HERE.

As you know from my other blog posts I highly recommend all the Joe Wicks range. It has really helped me with quick and easy recipes that cater for vegans. He also creates recipes where all the ingredients are easy to find in the local supermarket. If you’re looking for quick easy recipes and a bit of veggie inspiration, look no further.

Good luck and I hope you enjoy Veganuary as much as I am.

 

Insta @keziakco

xxx

The truth about those Christmas drinks

When December hits it’s many peoples favourite time of the year. Even the miserable weather can’t seem to hold us back from being excited about Christmas decorations, tree, presents, shopping, food etc. One of the oh so important signs that Christmas is on its way is when our local coffee houses start advertising their Christmas drinks on the menu. Everyone wants to try their festive drink and take a classic picture for the gram to represent the first signs of Christmas.  As we know, if its not on Instagram did it did it even happen?

Costa 

If you want to cut the calories with Costa drinks, don’t bother choosing an alternative milk option, just go for a smaller size with no whipped cream otherwise it will be at least 500 calories for one latte.

There are some exciting flavours to temp you though:

  • Black forest hot chocolate

443 calories (Large) or 319 calories (medium)

  • Caramelised orange and cream latte and hotchocolate

Hot chocolate – 467 calories (large) or 321 calories (medium)

Latte – 340 calories (large) or 243 calories (medium)

  • Hazelnut praline and cream latte and hot chocolate

Hot chocolate – 525 calories (large) and 381 calories (medium)

Latte – 398 calories (large) and 303 calories (medium)

  • The luxury caramel and the luxury chocolate

Hot chocolate – 150 calories

Hot caramel – 159 calories

  • Gingerbread and cream latte and hot chocolate

Hot chocolate –  413 calories (large) or 278 calories (medium)

Latte – 293 calories (large) or 200 calories (medium)

With the luxury caramel and luxury chocolate both under 200 calories they aren’t that bad if you’re really craving a treat, but some of the other options are over 500 calories. It’s just not sensible to consume a meals worth of calories in a glass. Not to mention the sugar content! All calories mentioned above include semi-skimmed milk as the milk of choice.

 You may remember Costa’s signature drink,  Christmas Billionaires Hot Chocolate. Costa has since discontinued it and for good reason given the calories within it. SIX HUNDRED AND SIXTY calories to be exact.

Billionaires hot chocolate costa

20 teaspoons of sugar or 78 grams and the equivalent of eating 3 mars bars. The NHS recommends that an individual has no more than 30 grams a day, so this is more than TWICE that. I would say keep away, but you can’t get it any more even if you wanted to. Thank god.

Starbucks

  • Grande Gingerbread Coffee Frappuccino with skimmed milk

Has 68.7 grams of sugar. This is the equivalent of 6 Krispy crème doughnuts.

  • Eggnog latte

271 calories and 33.8 grams of sugar.

  • Fudge hot chocolate

257 calories and 11.7 grams of fat. Personally, fat content doesn’t bother me as much as sugar, carbs and calories.

Pret A Manger

  • Small Orange Spiced Latte

186 calories, 21.4 grams of sugar (almost 2 doughnuts) and 5 grams of saturated fat

The best low-calorie winter drinks

  • Hot chocolate

When you think of a tasty warming cup of hot chocolate what comes to mind?

Probably this?

Topped with cream, marshmallows, sprinkles and thick and creamy. Obviously, this is a calorie nightmare and probably contains more sugar than your daily allowance. This is not what I’m recommending but there are some other yummy alternatives. Probably not as tasty as this version but better than nothing and all under 50 calories.

  • Sainsbury’s low calorie hot chocolate – 40 calories
  • Options hot chocolate drinks – 40 calories
  • Galaxy bubbles hot chocolate drinks – 40 calories
  • Weight Watchers hot chocolate – 40 calories
  • Cadbury’s highlights hot chocolate drinks – 38 calories
  • Tesco Healthy Living hot chocolate – 39 calories
  • Lidl Bellarom instant hot chocolate light – 40 calories
  • Asda light instant hot chocolate – 42 calories
  • Mark and Spencer hot chocolate drink – 50 calories
  • Mulled wine

Nothing that completes a cosy winter evening better than a nice hot warming glass of mulled wine on the sofa but do we want to add more alcohol into our diets over this holiday season? We probably don’t need anymore on top of all the Christmas dinners, Christmas parties that are filling the next month or so but mulled wine just isn’t as bad as you might think.

Save your holiday guests this season from consuming millions of empty alcohol calories and make skinny red wine. You can follow your usual recipe but use  red wine purchased from skinny booze for less calories and this will significantly reduce your calorie intake. A lot of mulled wine recipes also involve adding additional sugar to the beverage, avoid this by adding a drop of stevia instead.

I found a great recipe for Keto Mulled wine and at only 116 calories a glass. This is low sugar, no carb, gluten free and vegan. What more could you ask for?

https://www.vegannie.com/cocktails/mulled-wine/

Other than these I would just stick to what you usually drink whether that’s slim line G&Ts, vodka, green tea,just go with that. No need to over indulge and try all these fancy drinks just because its Christmas as you will only regret it in January. Most of these things we only have because they’re there. We would never pick these unusual extras in the supermarket but when offered them its tempting. Just say no as you’ll feel much better in the long run.

Only 2 weeks until Christmas.

Instagram @Keziakco

Is fish healthy?

We know there are so many positive things about incorporating fish into your diet:

  • Lean protein
  • Lighter food option
  • Omega 3
  • Lower in fat than any other source of animal protein

deep sea fish

There are also some negatives that you need to be aware of. I have made a list of fish to avoid and the reasons why:

Fish you should never eat:

  • Chilean Seabass

I was quite sad to find out this fish should be avoided as it is one of my favourites. It has very high mercury levels.

  • Farmed Salmon

Just to gross you out, the fish feed that is fed to these farmed salmon consists of chicken, duck and pig feces. This alone could be the reason why farmed salmon has 10 times the amount of cancer causing pollutants in comparison to the wild salmon. ALWAYS go for the wild option!

If that isn’t enough to put you off, the waters that these farmed salmon reside in are also often filled with pesticides, feces, bacteria and parasites.

A study where mice where fed farmed salmon showed weight gain and diabetes so if I were you I would stay well away.

You can easily tell if the salmon you buy is farmed or not by the colour:

wild vs farmed salmon

  • Catfish

Catfish might not be the most common item on the menu but it is growing in popularity. Beware as this is one of the dirtiest items on the menu as about 80% of it contains the bacteria responsible for food poisoning. Farmed catfish are also treated with antibiotics, pesticides and disinfectants so when consumed by us these drugs get into our system as well.

  • Imported farmed Shrimp

Most imported shrimp – about 90% is treated with a high oestrogen containing food additive. This increases the risk of breast cancer in women and reduces sperm count in men.

The shrimp pond waters are often treated with cancer causing pesticides and another linked with ADHD and Parkinson’s disease.

  • Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna

This is a large deep sea predatory fish that has very high levels of mercury so is best avoided. Mercury can cause neurological issues and has been linked with individuals getting symptoms of an uncontrollable tremor, numbness or pain in certain parts of the skin.

  • Swordfish

Swordfish is also a large predatory fish that contains high levels of mercury so is best avoided.

  • King and Spanish Mackerel

King and Spanish mackerel also contain high levels of mercury so is best avoided.

  • Grouper

Grouper, again has high levels of mercury.

  • Tilapia

Apparently eating tilapia is as bad as eating bacon and worse than eating a hamburger but recent studies have found that eating this type of farmed fish can increase the risk of inflammatory disease.

This are the reasons specifically associated to health. However, there are many other reasons to avoid the fish mentioned above. These include the following:

  • Extinction due to heavy fishing
  • Disturbing the natural food web
  • Reducing species
  • Farming is destroying river life and wetlands
  • Some fish is sourced from locations where unsustainable fishing practices are common
  • Imported fish is associated with a slavery network in Thailand

If you are concerned about the environment these fish should also be avoided but they do not pose as a health risk:

  • Atlantic cod
  • Atlantic flatfish
  • Caviar
  • Eel
  • Imported king crab
  • Orange roughy
  • Shark
  • Sturgeon

Not to worry, there are some fish types that are fine for you to eat and benefit your health, please see the list below:

Healthy fish options:

  • Wild caught Alaskan salmon
  • Pacific sardines
  • Atlantic mackerel
  • Albacore Tuna
  • Black cod

black cod

These fish are all farmed sustainably and contain far less contaminates. When you add these fish into your diet you will gain higher levels of omega 3 which is great for your health.

I hope I haven’t completely put you off from eating fish as I have also mentioned the great benefits it has. However, if you are put off and fish just isn’t for you any more you can still have fish oil supplements so that you don’t  miss out on the omega 3. The oils are taken from both fish caught for human consumption but also animal consumption. Please do make sure to only buy capsules made from purified fish oil or you may be exposed to contaminates.

It is not always immediately obvious as to which fish oil is purified so I have create a small list of recommended brands:

Benefits of Omega 3:

  • Fights depression and anxiety
  • Improves eye health
  • Connected with promoting brain health during pregnancy and early life
  • Improves risk factors for heart health
  • Reduces symptoms of ADHD in children
  • Reduces symptoms of metabolic syndrome
  • Fights and reduce inflammation
  • Fights autoimmune disease
  • Improves mental disorders
  • Fights age related mental decline including Alzheimer’s
  • Helps prevent cancer
  • Reduces Asthma
  • Reduces fat content in the liver
  • Alleviate menstrual pain
  • Improves sleep
  • Good for your skin

Are you sold yet? I am!

omega 3

If you are vegan or vegetarian and fish and capsules wont work for you, fear not as you can get Omega 3 from other sources including:

  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Wheat germ

However, they are not quite as good as the omega 3 found in fish.

Instagram @Keziakco

xxx

Fitness supplements – what are they and what do I buy?

A friend of mine asked me to write my next blog on fitness supplements and of course, I said ‘yeah sure’. When I came to write this, I didn’t know what the exact definition of a fitness supplement was. Does this include protein powder, vitamins or just things associated with fitness professionals like creatine and BCAAs? Let’s find out.

On further research the internet has broken these supplements into various categories:

  • Protein supplements
  • Dietary supplements
  • Pre-Workout supplements
  • Sports supplements
  • Bodybuilding supplements

The definition of a supplement is as follows:

A thing added to something else in order to complete or enhance it.

Therefore, a fitness supplement includes all of the above and is designed to support whatever you are trying to achieve within your fitness goal.

This should already help you when shopping for fitness supplements. For example, if you’re struggling with getting enough protein into your diet you know you should look for protein supplements. If you lack energy and motivation before a workout you know to search for pre-workout supplements etc.

I strongly believe in going for the most natural approach as possible. I don’t think its good practise to fill your body full of things that you are unfamiliar with. Just because they claim to do amazing things on the pack doesn’t mean they do and you need to educate yourself on what you consume before doing so.

These are the supplements in my cupboard:

  • Protein powder – to get extra protein in my diet
  • BCAA’s (Branched chain amino acids) – Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They help with maintaining and creating muscle.
  • Lysine tablets – helps the body to absorb calcium and build muscle. *
  • Calcium tablets – to strengthen my teeth and bones. *

* Both Lysine and calcium together help with the production of collagen in the body which is good for skin and looking younger. It increases bone strength and density and build muscle.

So out of the million fitness supplement options to choose from I’ve whittled it down to just 4 things. As you would have noticed I don’t use pre-workout. I find that they are very synthetic and have an extremely high caffeine content that is not entirely necessary. Also, it can’t be healthy having a huge dose of caffeine and then increasing your heart rate further when working out – just saying. Another thing that puts me off is the huge list of chemical ingredients. I don’t know what they all are so when in doubt best not to have it in my opinion. Normally I don’t actually find a need to get additional energy before the gym and I wouldn’t want my body to get used to the extra boost and rely on this before every gym session. However, if I am exhausted and severely lacking energy I would either have a black coffee or espresso or alternatively make myself a matcha latte. I use the natural ground matcha that can be bought on Amazon – click here.

Fitness supplements

Match is extremely healthy and also very tasty. The latte tastes sweet but you can add some sweetener or agave syrup to sweeten and it will taste just like the ice cream (if you’ve ever tried it).

Matcha latte

Steps to making a matcha Latte:

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon matcha Powder
  • 1 cup of milk (almond, cashew, oat, skimmed, soya – your preference)
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup

Steps:

  1. Poor cup of selected milk into saucepan
  2. Add one teaspoon on matcha powder
  3. Add one teaspoon of agave syrup
  4. Heat until boiling and serve

And the result should look like this:

What I use to boost my health - matcha

There are so many variations in the way that you can make a matcha latte. Here is some inspiration of pictures I took from Instagram:

There are so many fitness supplements out there, here is a list of others you can explore in your own time as these might work better for you and your personal goal:

  • Fat burners
  • Creatine
  • Casein
  • Multivitamins
  • Fish oil capsules

This selection of fitness supplements work for me and for what I’m trying to achieve but everyone is different. I suggest try things and see how they work for you. Remember less is more and always try to find a natural alternative if you can.

What fitness supplements do you use?

Instagram – @keziakco

xxx

Scare your body into losing weight this Halloween – 9 impressive health benefits of pumpkin.

You can incorporate pumpkin into your diet as a sweet or savoury dish. In winter I love soup, so I often eat pumpkin soup as its nice and warming. It’s also great for the planet to eat local and in season fruits and vegetables. If we were all a bit more thoughtful and did this more often it would cut down the demand for imported foods and reduce the worlds pollution levels.

pumpkin patch

Here are 9 impressive health benefits of pumpkin:

  1. Highly nutritious – one cup or 340 grams of pumpkin contains the following:

  • 49 calories

  • 2 grams fat

  • 2 grams protein

  • 12 grams carbohydrates

  • 3 grams fibre

  • 245 % RDI vitamin A

  • 19 % RDI vitamin C

  • 16 % RDI potassium

  • 11 % RDI copper

  • 11 % RDI manganese

  • 11 % RDI vitamin B2

  • 10 % RDI vitamin E

  • 8 % RDI Iron

  • Also includes small measurements of magnesium, folate, zinc, phosphorus and other B vitamins

Pumpkin is in fact 94 % water, this combined with the low calories makes it a healthy and nutritious snack.

  1. Reduce Risk of Disease–  pumpkin contains vast amounts of antioxidants. These protect our bodies from disease. Antioxidants have the ability to protect us from skin damage, reduce the risk of cancer and eye disease and many other conditions.

 

  1. Boosts Immunity – pumpkin is filled with vitamins that help our bodies with a variety of things. These include boosting our immunity so even more reason to eat it at this time of year. Pumpkin isn’t just for Halloween but can protect us from all those winter bugs that come about as it gets colder and darker. Pumpkin contains vitamin A, E and C and iron and folate.

 

 

  1. Protect Your Eyes – Pumpkin has a very high vitamin A content ( 245% RDI) and so is connected to reducing the risks of sight loss.

  2. Promote Weight Loss – pumpkin is a nutrient dense food, this means that it is packed full of nutrients but extremely low in calories. When dieting, pumpkin is a great source of carbohydrate as you can afford to eat more of it than the standard rice and potatoes.

 

  1. Reduce Cancer Risk – pumpkin is high in carotenoids and antioxidants that are responsible for removing free radicals from the body. It has been suggested that these can help reduce the risk of cancer.

 

  1. Increase Heart Health – the combination of vitamin C, potassium and fibre can improve heart health. Also the antioxidants inside the pumpkin have been linked to reducing bad cholesterol. If reducing your cholesterol level is of particular interest please see more information from a previous blog post I wrote. October is Cholesterol Month – a guide on cholesterol health including where to check your cholesterol level and where to get your cholesterol tested

 

  1. Promotes Healthy Skin – Pumpkin contains nutrients that when consumed act as a natural sun block to our skin. The vitamin C within the pumpkin aids with production of collagen that helps keep you looking younger for longer.

 

  1. Easily Accessible – Pumpkins are cheap, they are easy to find in any local store. You can easily add them into your diet as both a savoury or sweet dish, whatever suits you best.

 

Other Pumpkin Facts:

  • Pumpkins are a type of winter squash
  • Pumpkins are fruits
  • Pumpkins can be yellow as well as orange
  • 100g of pumpkin is only 26 kcals

pumpkin picking

Last weekend I went to the amazing The Pop Up Farm to go pumpkin picking for Halloween. I cannot recommend this highly enough. They have a 10 acre field full of pumpkins and squashes. It’s so colourful and really gets you feeling autumnal.

If you like taking pictures it’s a no brainer, the scenery is epic and great for a halloweeny October setting. I would recommend googling your local pumpkin picking pick your own farm and get there asap.

pick your own pumpkin

If you live in the London area I have listed 5 local pumpkin picking farms that you can visit:

  1. Crockford Bridge Farm, Weybridge Surrey, KT15 2BU. £4 entry charge, cash only.
  2. Pierson Agriculture at Four Winds Farm, Penshurst Road, Bidborough.
  3. Secretts, Hurst Farm, Chapel, Lane, Milford, Surrey, GUB 5HU
  4. Foxes Farm, Green Lane, Aldham, Colchester, CO6 3PR, and Watch House Farm, Wash Road, Basildon, SS25 4ER. Free entry to the fields just pay for the pumpkins you pick (cash only).
  5. Cammas Hall Farm, Needham Green, near Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, CM22 7JT

Many of these farms aren’t just available for pumpkin picking and offer seasonal fruit and vegetable picking all year round. Keep an eye out on their websites to find out what you can source locally. It’s a lovely healthy family friendly day out.

Pick Your Own farms not only provide you with healthy and fresh fruit and vegetables but they also support your local economy. When going to a Pick Your Own Farm you are guaranteed freshness and you can also do your own quality control when choosing your purchases. Pick Your Own is also a lot cheaper than buying from your local shop.

If you don’t live near a local pumpkin farm and want to decorate your house for Halloween fear not as believe it or not you can purchase these cute little ceramic pumpkins and squashes from amazon. Good old Amazon Prime will have your house looking halloweeny in no time – CLICK HERE

pumpkin picking for halloween

Happy Halloween! What are you going as this year?

Instagram @keziakco

Xxx

Health Benefits of Turmeric

Why is everyone so obsessed with turmeric? People are raving about it, all the big coffee chains are adding it to their lattes and there are even cooking books dedicated to turmeric. To find out why keep reading.

images

Top 10 Health Benefits of Turmeric:

  1. Anti-Inflammatory properties
  2. Pain relief – studies have shown it to work as well as ibuprofen
  3. Improve liver functions – due to its antioxidant abilities
  4. Digestion – can even be used to treat IBS
  5. Reduce the risk of cancer
  6. Natural Medicine
  7. Reduces depression
  8. Reduces period pains
  9. Reduces Acne – add to your face mask to have clear smooth and healthy skin
  10. Fights age related diseases.

Health Brands and stores are going crazy for this everyday spice. Shop shelves are over flowing with turmeric tablets, teas and snacks. Restaurants and coffee shops are adding to it everything they can from juices, coffees, shots and cakes.

images (1)

Thinking you might find it hard to add this magical ingredient into your daily routine? Here is an easy way to kill your evening snacking and add this magic spice to your daily diet:

Recipe

Turmeric Latte

Prep time: 5 minutes

Serving size: 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 1 Teaspoon of turmeric
  • 2 Teaspoons of agave syrup
  • 1 Teaspoon of ginger
  • 1 Teaspoon of nut butter
  • 1 Cup full of soya milk
  • Cinnamon to sprinkle

Instructions

Add all ingredients into a pan apart from the cinnamon and soya milk. Put on a low heat and mix until runny. Add in the soya milk and stir until boiling. Pour into a mug and add cinnamon. Serve straight away.

Best enjoyed as a late evening treat. If you feel something sweet or craving one more snack before bed try this. Not only is it filling but it’s healthy as well.

Here is the finished product:

image1.jpeg

 

BEWARE: Turmeric stains very badly so try not to spill it, especially on anything white. Also clean your teeth straight after consuming to avoid a yellow smile.

Enjoy 🙂

Instagram – @Kezkiakco

 

xxx

 

Mildred’s Vegan Restaurant

This is the first truly vegan and vegetarian restaurant I have ever been to in London and I have to say I was very impressed. They have four Locations across London – Camden, Soho, Kings Cross, Dalston. I went to the Kings Cross restaurant.

When you arrive they ask you if you’ve been there before and if not they check that you know that it is a vegetarian restaurant to avoid disappointment. I assume most people who attend would know in advance, as this is why they are here but you never know.

When we were seated we were asked if we had any allergies or intolerances and handed the menu. For a change almost everything was vegan and the few options that were not were clearly marked. It’s nice to go to a place where they assume the opposite to the norm. They assume you are vegan.

There is quite a large menu to choose from and the mains are all very large and filling. I didn’t get a starter and I don’t think I would have managed one if I had. I was very full by the end of the meal which is unusual for London.

I went for the chicken katsu curry as this is my favourite dish at Wagamama. I can’t say it tasted much like the one in Wagamama but it was very tasty. The texture and taste of the mock chicken was really good and it even looked the same as meat. As a meat eater it is an excellent alternative and I could quite easily eat this on a daily basis instead of chicken.

It is very reasonably priced at under £25 for main and alcoholic drink.

The only downside is that you cannot book in advance. When we arrived we were notified there would be a 20 minute wait so we decided to have a drink at the bar. This was not an issue for us but if in a rush this situation would not be ideal.

I very much like the idea of becoming vegan and I have read so much about the health benefits and understand the value it has on the planet but I honestly don’t know if I could do it on a permanent basis. I know it sounds lazy but I feel like it would involve a lot of reading ingredient labels and be quite inconvenient when socialising – restaurants and dinner parties. I would love it if I could eat like I did in Mildred’s every day but somehow I feel that wouldn’t be practical as I would have to spend hours in the kitchen ever evening. I am very interested in perhaps doing a 7 day trial, if you’ve done one or you are vegan let me know and drop me some advice.

UPDATE: I’m on day 6 of my vegan diet – check out the new blog post here:

https://keziafitco.co.uk/2019/01/10/veganuary-living-6-days-on-a-vegan-diet/

Thanks!

 

Wood Roasted Mushroom and Ale Pie, Minted Mushy Peas & Fries:

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Chicken Katsu Curry:

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Instagram – @keziakco

xxx