Posts Tagged ‘london’

Why ravens are the world’s most fascinating bird

I’ve always loved ravens. They are beautiful birds—shiny black, regal, intelligent. So imagine how exciting it was for me to see the resident ravens during my visit to the Tower of London last week. I was very lucky to have met one very special raven named Merlin, whose fascinating life at the Tower is detailed here (along with nearly 20 amazing photos that showcase her beauty and unique personality!).

The Tower’s ravens hold special significance: Legend has it that in the 17th century, Charles II was tired of so many ravens interfering with his telescope—so he decided to get rid of them. That was until his astronomer persuaded him that killing ravens was unlucky, and the British kingdom would fall if the ravens left the tower. Charles II listened—and today, the ravens have transformed into an iconic symbol of the Tower.

My 10 favorite things to do in London

I’m so excited to fly to the UK this weekend for my Everything Animal Reiki and Equine Reiki Training classes at Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary! (If you want to sign up but haven’t yet, don’t worry—there’s still time!)

I always spend a few days in London before heading into the beautiful countryside to Remus. And now that this is going to be my third trip across the pond, I feel like I’m really getting to know London. With that in mind, here’s my ultimate top 10 list for visiting London:

1. Fave lunch spot: Ottolenghi restaurant in Notting Hill

Imagine the most delicious (and beautifully presented) vegetarian dishes you’ve ever tasted. I can promise you, I will be eating here at least once next week!

What’s your favorite cookbook?

Historically speaking, I never really enjoyed cooking (unless it was homemade chocolate-chip cookies!). But recently—since changing my diet to include mostly vegan and gluten-free meals—I haven’t really had a choice. I’ve been cooking vegetarian for so many years, but I always paired the veggies with pasta, cheese and breads. After going vegan and gluten-free, I wondered, could I survive on lettuce alone? And secondly, what was I going to eat, anyway?

A total rethinking of my go-to cookbooks was in order. So after much Googling, talking to friends and testing in my own home kitchen, I’ve settled upon my top three veg cookbooks. Here they are, plus four more I can’t wait to try!

1. Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi: Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurant in Notting Hill is my favorite place in London! That’s where I first discovered his mouthwatering vegetarian dishes, which taste as good as they look. His cookbook has helped me bring those wonderful flavor combinations back home to the States.

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2. Crazy Sexy Kitchen: 150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolution: Kris Carr is kind of my guru right now. I love her warmth, inspiring ideas and post-cancer attitude. Her cookbook has helped me to feel strong again in the kitchen and learn to cook the most amazing, healthy dishes. My faves from this book: Chickpea With Root Veggie Tangine, and the Black Bean and Roasted Sweet Potato Burger. Her blog is also worth a look.

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3. Decadent Gluten-Free Baking: Delicious Gluten-, Egg- and Dairy-Free Treats and Sweets: I love my sweets. I do! So giving up wheat felt so utterly depressing … until I discovered this cookbook. Now I don’t even miss my old way of baking! I absolutely LOVE the Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies (except I substitute chocolate chips for the cranberries).

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Here are four more cookbooks I can’t wait to try; I’ve heard such amazing things about them:

1. Heart of the Plate

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2. The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen

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3. River Cottage Veg

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4. The French Market Cookbook

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What’s your favorite cookbook? I’m dying to know!

{P.S. A really beautiful vegan/veggie blog is 101 Cookbooks by foodie Heidi Swanson (she has a couple of healthy cookbooks, too, including this one.)}

 

The best teas (plus the #1 secret to a perfect cup)

Christmas Eve: a time for good tidings, togetherness and … tea. Yes, tea! Tea may seem an unusual holiday tradition, but for me, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a cozy night in with family and friends. And ever since ditching my daily hot chocolate for healthier tea a few years ago, I’ve become something of a tea enthusiast—and not just on holidays.

I basically drink tea all day long when it’s cold out. Even in the summer, I love my tea in the cool mornings and chilly evenings. In fact, the only thing I love as much as my chocolate is my tea!

My favorite teas come from two companies in particular. I love them not only because their mint and chamomile tea is the very BEST in my opinion (and I have tried many teas!), but also because they are both socially conscious, which I love.

Here are my picks for seven of the best, most truly delicious teas:

1. My favorite tea brand is Mighty Leaf. They are a great company, and I absolutely love their Organic Mint Melange in the a.m.

2. My second favorite from Mighty Leaf is Chamomile Citrus in the p.m.

3. Their Organic Green Dragon is a fave of my friends who like their teas caffeinated.

4. & 5. My second favorite brand is Numi. I just love their Moroccan Mint and their Chamomile Lemon. They do a lot of giving back; check this out—they are a cool company!

6. My caffeine-drinking friends swear by Numi’s Chinese Breakfast tea.

7. My favorite loose leaf tea is from Mountain Rose Herbs. Their Firefly Chai is super delicious, and it’s the only chai I’ve ever found that is caffeine-free.

When Leah D’Ambrosio (my SARA co-founder) and I return to London in August 2015 for SARA teacher training, we will be looking for some great places for afternoon tea. (These look like top contenders!) London is such a hot spot when it comes to tea. This was our absolute favorite tea place last time we visited. You can bet we’ll be visiting it again!

And now for the secret to a perfect cup: According to a study commissioned by Cravendale Milk, the most important ingredient is patience. Click here for their step-by-step instructions.

I would love to hear from you! What are some teas I simply MUST try?