To celebrate my 18th Birthday, my mum booked us a three-day trip to London and it will come as no surprise that what I most looking forward to was the food. For someone who lives in Cheshire, where the most vegan thing you can get is a McDonald’s salad (oh how I wish that was an over exaggeration), it was quite the step up. I was in complete and utter foodie heaven and I wanted to eat everything that I saw; raw cheesecakes, juices, smoothies, waffles, salads, vegan burgers – I was completely in my element. Throughout the whole trip I felt the happiest that I’ve been in a long time; so distanced and free from my eating disorder. It’s safe to say that I completely fell in love with London and I’ve never visited anywhere before and felt so at ease.
Our trip turned out to be quite the tour of London as we took countless number of tubes, whizzing around from Oxford Street to Notting Hill, Mayfair, Camden and Carnaby street – but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I got to tick off several health food spots that I’d been lusting over for months and experience so many different areas of the city – none of which would have been possible without the trusty google maps app, I don’t think we managed to make it anywhere without it! Whilst it’s a completely different way of life than what I’m used to, I adore the whole vibe of the city; the people, the businesses, the rush, the food and yes I love the tube! Being surrounded by like-minded people who share the same beliefs and interests inspired and motivated me so much to pursue a career in the health and fitness industry, to travel more and meet new people.
Aside from the amazing food and drink (you’ll be hearing a lot about that), it was so amazing to finally SEE London – the previous time we visited we were there for less than 24 hours and saw very little from an open top tour bus whereas this time we were actually able to walk around and experience the city and all of its amazing sights from Buckingham Palace to Harrods, Big Ben and even Camden Market – it was a birthday that I will never forget.
Whilst I expected my mum to be more skeptical about the food on offer, she actually managed to choose, eat and enjoy something everywhere we went. Her favourites were the Mae Deli (she said that she would have happily eaten there for every meal) and Farmacy and I definitely have to agree. I honestly expected her to be running off to McDonald’s every hour but she still won’t stop talking about how much she loved the Mae Deli, has stopped eating meat, is reducing her dairy intake and is currently preparing her first ever overnight oats – who knew London could have such an effect on someone?
On a personal note, this trip also highlighted to me how far I’ve come in recovery – not only did I feel so distanced from my eating disorder but visiting all of these amazing restaurants and enjoying so much delicious food would never have been possible had I not come so far; I would have been too scared to eat or drink anything and too weak to even put one foot in front of the other. It’s amazing experiences like this that put into perspective how much life is worth living and how much there is to fight for. I choose good food and creating happy memories over starvation, isolation and depression any day.
Planet Organic I thought that Holland & Barrett was as good as it could get, but Planet Organic takes the category of health food store to a whole other level. There were endless rows of shelves stocked full of my favourite snacks, natural cleaning products, raw chocolate and superfood powders – I was more than in my element. The amount of amazing products on offer was quite overwhelming and I honestly didn’t know where to start, so I began meandering my way down each and every aisle, opting to buy things that I can’t get back home. As a result, I filled my basket with lots of raw chocolate, kookie cat cookies, planet organic’s own brand chiamp bars, the new vegan bounce balls and oh some natural toothbrushes! Whilst I didn’t eat anything in there (although it did all look and smell amazing) I did try two of their drinks – their superfood coffee made with espresso, hazelnut milk, maca and reishi mushrooms and a zinger juice; orange, carrot, apple, giner and both were delicious.
WholeFoods Just as overwhelming as Planet Organic, Wholefoods was my idea of heaven on earth. Bursting to the seams with health foods from kombucha to cashew yoghurt and giant tubs of tahini – I would love nothing more than one of these stores in the North. I’d already done a lot of damage in Planet Organic, so I was a little more restricted in my budget but that didn’t stop me from picking up some mindful bites nut butter satchets to try and activated maple syrup almonds. They also had an amazing selection of fresh food and drink on offer which would make the perfect grab and go lunch, if only I hadn’t already eaten!
The Mae Deli The whole reason why my mum suggested a trip to London for my birthday was so that I would be able to visit Ella’s deli, so you can only imagine my excitement when I finally stepped foot through the door. It was the first place that we visited and I practically ran there from the train station because I was so hungry! I opted for one of the mae bowls, – roasted sweet potato with coriander tahini, butter bean and cauliflower falafels, avocado and pea hummus and grilled pepper, courgette and aubergine with sorrel pesto. I love that you’re able to mix and match the dishes that you like and there was so much choice. The food itself was nicer than I ever could have imagined, so much so that we went back for breakfast the following morning where I devoured a stack of sweetcorn fritters with smashed avocado and spiced beans. At £9.75 for a mae bowl and £6.50 for breakfast with generous portions, it’s definitely amazing value for money and if anything, I would pay more! Other than the delicious foods available at the deli, the staff were all so friendly and the place has an amazing atmosphere accompanied by the most beautiful decor. I was amazed at how close it is to Oxford Street and I quite happily would have eaten all of my meals there – I can’t wait to go back.
Farmacy As soon as we booked to go to London, I knew that I had to visit Farmacy – I’d seen pictures of their syringe shots on Instagram and knew that I would feel right at home under their food is medicine ethos. I easily could have eaten every single dish on the menu, but managed to decide on the famous Farmacy burger: a millet, black bean & mushroom burger served with garlic aioli, goji ketchup, avocado, pickles and tomato served in a wholemeal vegan bun with sweet potato fries. I’ve eaten a fair few vegan burgers in my time but let me tell you, this was on a whole other level. Again, the atmosphere was as amazing as the food and the staff were so friendly, offering water on arrival and keeping our glasses topped up throughout the meal.. now what’s this about southerners being rude?
Ethos Wednesday’s lunch led us to Ethos – a self-service restaurant a stones throw from Oxford Street where the food is sold by weight. Although it is a vegetarian restaurant, the majority of the dishes on offer were in fact vegan and gluten-free too, meaning that I was so spoilt for choice. After much deliberation and a few laps around all of the dishes on display, I decided on the guacamole, hummus, massaged kale salad with kumquats, good green salad with sugar snaps and chickpeas, japanese miso glazed roasted aubergine, sweet potato fries and maple syrup cabbage slaw. Some serious self-controlled was needed to not pile my plate up sky-high, but what I did choose was delicious. They also had some amazing raw desserts on offer too.
The Good Life Eatery For years I’ve heard rave reviews about the good life eatery from youtubers and health bloggers alike so I knew that I would have to stop off at some point. Whilst we’d already had lunch, the inevitable afternoon slump eventually kicked in and so we found ourselves (or should I say, google found us) a Good Life Eatery in Chelsea to recharge. My mum opted for a flat white and I had a matcha latte – we’re very much creatures of habit! Whilst the latte art alone was enough to impress me, all of their food and raw treats on offer sounded amazing too and if my stomach was big enough, then I totally would have eaten there.
Nama What makes Nama so unique is that their whole menu is completely raw but don’t be mistaken into thinking that the only options would be salad – their menu is packed to the brim with a whole range of raw dishes from a vegan full english to rawtella on toast and cheesecakes. Its Notting Hill location means that it was quite the trek to get there, but it was completely worth it. I actually think that their breakfast menu sounds better than their evening mains, but seen as we’d past the 5pm threshold I settled on the pizza fungi which was a walnut crust, truffle cashew cream, cashew parmesan, chanterelles, porcini and chestnut mushrooms, grated black truffle. It was deceivingly filling despite its small size and the mixture of flavours was absolutely incredible; the taste resembled real parmesan perfectly – yes that’s right, vegan cheese that actually tastes like cheese. All of the smoothies on the menu sounded amazing and are loaded with the most nutrient dense ingredients but I was way too full up from my pizza and so I opted to choose something from their fridge instead, which was stocked full of vegan treats including white chocolate crunch, bounty bars and millionaires shortbread. I went for the classic caramel shortbread, which I devoured back at the hotel room and let me tell you it was so good; a vegan shortbread topped with gooey date caramel, encased in a layer of raw chocolate.. what more could you ask for?
Raw Press Whilst in London I wanted to try things that I can’t usually have for breakfast at home so when it came to raw press, I opted for the blueberry and buckwheat waffles served with fresh blueberries, maple syrup and coconut yoghurt whilst my mum went for the chai spiced porridge. I’d never had vegan waffles before but these were so good; crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and laced with the juiciest blueberries. I still can’t get over quite how delicious they were and I’m so tempted to buy myself a waffle maker..
Campbells Canal Cafe Whilst this wasn’t on my list of places to visit, you can’t ignore Campbells Canal Cafe which can be spotted from far down Camden high street thanks to the large veggies on the roof – yes that’s right, large colourful plastic veggies! We couldn’t resist stopping off for drinks and my mum went for a soy flat white and I had a hazelnut milk hot chocolate which was amazing! They had such a range of milks to choose from; almond, oat, soya, hazelnut and hemp meaning that there was something for everyone. And although I resisted temptation, I couldn’t help eyeing up the amazing selection of raw desserts on offer including peanut butter cheesecake and a selection of truffles – if I hadn’t been so full from breakfast then I totally would have.
Cookies and Scream A trip to Camden would not have been complete without venturing to the famous Cookies and Scream cookie bar located in Camden lock. This gluten-free, vegan bakery is renowned for its cookie and doughnut ice cream sandwiches and if I hadn’t been so full up from the amazing waffles at raw press, then I totally would have eaten one. Instead, I opted to take a cookie home with me – it was a hard decision to make considering that all of the flavours sounded so amazing but I eventually settled on the classic chocolate chip and it certainly didn’t dissapoint.
Mildred’s When it came to lunch on our final day, I was so torn between visiting the new veggie Pret or Mildred’s but seen as we were already in Camden and Mildred’s was a couple of minutes walk away (as oppose to the several tube stops it would have taken to get to Pret) it made more sense to visit Mildred’s. I was craving a burger and luckily they had just the thing to satisfy the problem – I went for their classic vegan burger: a smoked tofu, lentil, piquillo pepper burger in a focaccia bun with relish, rocket, red onion, tomato and vegan cheese plus a side of sweet potato fries with basil mayo. Whilst the burger was so hearty and delicious (when do I not like vegan burgers though) what really impressed me were their fries – they were so similar to roasted sweet potato fries at home and a bowlful of those alone would have been enough to make me happy. The staff were all so friendly too and I honestly can’t recommend Mildred’s enough; they also have locations in Soho and Kings Cross so I definitely recommend that you check them out if you’re in London.
Selfridges Food Hall There’s something so special about large department store such as Selfridges, Liberty and Harrods but whilst most people drool over the designer handbags, I headed straight for the food hall with one task: to find Livia’s Biccy Boms. For the moment they’re being sold exclusively in Selfridges and so I was more than keen to get my hands on some. They were hard to miss as they held prized place with their very own display and I didn’t hesitate to quickly grab one of each flavour and rush to the tills.
What are your favourite foodie places in London? And what’s your favourite place that you’ve ever visited? Leave them in the comments below or let me know on Instagram @nourishingyas x