Ok so last time we got up to the Christmas Day feast, if you’ve not read that one yet then go back and catch up! Done? Okey dokey, let’s get on with all the fun that was had after Christmas!
In the days between Christmas and New Year, I spent lots of time visiting friends and eating out which was awesome! One of the days I went up to London to see another friend called Lucy and we went ice skating in Winter Wonderland! But before we went in, we visited The MaE Deli which is Deliciously Ella’s café. I’ve wanted to go since it opened but I didn’t realise there was one near Hyde Park, so when I was looking on Happy Cow for somewhere to eat and it popped up, I was excited to go!
It was everything I’d imagined it to be. Inside was beautifully decorated and all the yummy salads and deli items were on display, with hot options keeping warm in the kitchen. The staff were very friendly and gave us recommendations on what to put together. I can’t remember the names of everything I had, but it was all delicious!
I was really impressed with the portion sizes too; it was just under £10 but you got a massive bowlful of four items of your choice so lots of room for trying different options/combinations.
I finished off the meal with a turmeric latte and their version of a peanut butter cup. Now I’m a huge fan of peanut butter but although this was nice, it just didn’t hit the spot for me. If you read my last post you’ll know that I’ve not had much success with Ella’s sweet recipes and this is another – sorry Ella! The savoury food was incredible though and I would really recommend her blog, books and café to everyone, I think there must be something wrong with me when it comes to the sweet stuff!
The next day I met up with my friend Jo for lunch (you’ll have read about her in the previous post too!). We went to a new café that’s recently opened up in Winchester called Thrive Café and Wellbeing. I’d seen it on Instagram and Jo’s a foodie just like me so I think we were both happy to go there! The first thing that struck me was how beautifully the place had been decorated, a lot of attention to detail had clearly gone into it. There was also a cute little note by the water fountain asking people to have a little patience while the staff were learning the ropes (it was I think less than a month old at the time!). It wasn’t needed though as the girl behind the counter was very friendly and the service was great.
The menu was limited but everything sounded tasty! There were a couple of each of veggie and vegan options including a beany chilli on jacket potato – but as I was having that for tea later I thought I’d go with the mushroom soup! It was lovely, but we were already eyeing up the raw cakes. It’s safe to say we both have a massive sweet tooth and couldn’t decide between the two that were on offer, so both split a raw snickers bar and raw chocolate and raspberry brownie. They were both very tasty, with Jo preferring the brownie and I the snickers (I think it was the peanuts that did it). I can’t wait to go back there again, especially once they’ve had a few more months to get established!
Then I was off to Los Angeles for a couple of days with my Dad and Step-mum for New Year! I had been super excited about this for a long time as we were going to visit some family friends out there who I’ve not seen for years! We arrived late in the evening so just popped into Target when we got to the hotel to get some supplies. I found these Clif bars which I’ve not seen in the UK before and they are amazingly delicious! (I just checked and they’re not a UK product, though looks like you can buy imported ones online for about £2.50 each!! Ouch!)
Hotel breakfasts always used to be one of my favourite parts of going to the US with my Dad. I remember some hotels having such a huge selection of hot food, waffles, pancakes, muffins, bagels, cakes and fruit – not that I ever used to get that! This time I wondered what would be on offer for me as it was my first time as a vegan but I certainly managed to eat plenty! I panicked when I first got there so just grabbed a bowl of oatmeal (which had been made with soy milk) and chucked a few of the raisins they had for toppings on there. A disappointing start. But then I got my act together and found some bagels, peanut butter and jam and thought it was time I lost my peanut-butter-jelly virginity. Yes, it’s true, I’ve never had it before but you Americans are onto something because it was a taste sensation! Then, upon seeing the bill and that my ‘continental’ breakfast was going to cost $20, I decided I had plenty of room for more porridge so this time took my time sourcing better toppings!
So now that I’d eaten enough for 3 people we left for Encinitas which is where our friends live. When we got to theirs, we had a coffee and then went to bring in the English New Year at their friends’ house. None of us realised they were putting on food, and there weren’t many vegan options apart from hummus lettuce wraps, but luckily they had bought some cupcakes which were free from pretty much everything (dairy, eggs, even gluten!), so I was able to tuck into one of those as the clock struck 12 (or 4pm in our case). Plus as you just read, I’d eaten enough breakfast to let me skip lunch so I was fine!
When we went back to theirs we had dinner. Kiersten cooked us yummy tacos (theirs with chicken, mine with spiced potatoes) and we had refried beans, salad, nachos and salsa. I didn’t manage to get a picture but it sure was a good spread!
We stayed in for the rest of the evening and had a nice quiet glass of champagne while watching Mariah Carey fail miserably at singing…well anything really. It was a lovely night and the perfect way to bring in the new year.
The next morning, Kiersten took me to Whole Foods whilst the rest of the family got ready to go to breakfast, and I bought a serious amount of snacks and healthy bars that we can’t get back home. I’m talking 10 Larabars here (they were on offer)! I think I’ll do a separate post on my food haul as it’s quite extensive, and maybe add in a clothes haul of what I bought over the Christmas period!
After that we went to a place called Naked Café which does a lot of healthy food including many veggie and vegan options. It was typical amazing American fare really. We saw a humongous pancake stack come out of the kitchen and I knew I was going to enjoy my meal! I went for a breakfast burrito which originally had egg white in it but when I asked the waitress if it would be vegan if I took that out she not only assured me it would be but also offered to swap it for braised tofu! In the UK I find that restaurants don’t often suggest substitutions, you often just end up paying the same for a meal without the non-vegan parts. I can safely say this was the yummiest brunch I’ve ever eaten in my life. It had vegan sausage, tofu, rice and veggies, avocado and refried beans, and of course I got some fruit on the side.
After that we made a trip to Lululemon, where I spent much money, before hitting the road and heading back to the hotel so Dad could have a rest before the flight home (he’s cabin crew). It was a Sunday and I was in the second week of marathon training so this actually provided me with perfect opportunity to get my long run of 8 miles in! The hotel was in Anaheim, right next to DisneyLand, so I had great fun exploring the area and the miles seemed to fly by, especially fuelled by my delicious breakfast!
When we’d arrived back at the hotel, Dad and my Step-mum had wanted to get some lunch so we found some restaurants close by and I clocked a Chinese (similar to Panda Express) which I noted did 2 tofu dishes, veggies and boiled rice. I ran first, calculating my 8 miles to end right outside the restaurant where I promptly stopped and ordered my lunch! Very good planning if I do say so myself. You can see it in the top left of the above pic, though she only actually gave me two pieces of tofu so I was a little disappointed!
And if you thought my Christmas ended there, you’d be very much mistaken! There is one more trip coming up in my next post, to Italy! I think I’ll write it as a bit of a travel/food guide like my Barcelona and Bristol posts so keep your eyes out for that!