Weekly Vegan Grocery Haul + Meal Plan (Round 1)

I love getting a peak into other people’s grocery hauls, so I thought – why not share mine? I typically do a large shop on Saturday or Sunday that gets us through until (maybe) Thursday, when we need to do a small shop to get us through a few more days.

I would LOVE to be able to go to the grocery store only once I week (I think that’s the American in me), but I can never seem to buy enough (or rather, carry enough…) to last us through. And I’m always the girl at the checkout counter with 3x more than anyone else!

It’s very European to grocery shop every few days, which is something I realized living in London last year and now living in Amsterdam. I think it’s the combination of smaller refrigerator/freezers and also less-treated produce. It goes bad much faster than produce in America, and I consider that a good thing! Less chemicals going into my body.

One last disclaimer – this is for two people. I live with my partner and we make all meals together.

Let’s get to it!

Farmer’s Market

I feel so lucky to live so close to, what I consider to be, the best farmer’s market in all of Amsterdam! Noodermarkt. Big claim there, considering this city has so many, but hear me out.

Everything is 100% organic.

It’s small enough to not be overwhelming, but big enough to have everything you need.

The variety is fantastic. Produce, dry goods, breads, pottery, fish & meats (if you’re into that), and more. If my budget was big enough for 100% artisanal and organic foods, I could do all my shopping here. Maybe one day!

I typically stick to getting as much produce as I can here, and if my budget allows it, a large loaf of sourdough bread (it’s a few euros more expensive than the grocery store).

This week, I purchased: carrots, broccoli, spinach, kale, cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and a cucumber. All for 15 euros! If you look at the amounts of spinach and kale, I don’t consider that price half bad.

The produce part of the market runs every Saturday from 9am-4pm, and do I sound older than I am when I say I look forward to it every week?

Jumbo

Oh, how I love Jumbo too! I used to shop solely at its more upscale competitor, Albert Heijn, before finally trying and converting on the spot.

Surprisingly, Jumbo has a much better selection of vegan items than Albert Heijn, and nearly the exact same items when it comes to dry goods, at a significantly cheaper price. I save a lot of money by shopping here.

This week, I bought…

Dry goods: two loaves of bread, oatmeal, maple syrup, black beans, peanut butter, nuts, quinoa, hemp seeds, and yeast.

Produce: two frozen raspberries, two frozen blueberries, lemons, limes, passion fruit, three avocados, four apples, tempeh, hummus, and five bananas.

Un-pictured: Toilet paper, dishwasher pods, and dish soap.

I spent 55 euros.

Specialty Item Stores

Depending on what I’m making and what I need for that week, I’ll frequent either Vegabond, Marqt, or Ekoplaza for a better selection of bulk or specialty items.

This week I stopped by Vegabond for it’s awesome selection of chocolate, and Ekoplaza to get almonds and hazelnuts in bulk to make homemade milk! Chocolate picture above, and no pictures of the nuts unfortunately.

I spent 3.25 euros at Vegabond, and 8 euros at Ekoplaza.

What I’m Making This Week

If any of the recipes call for items I haven’t bought this week, it’s because I already have them on hand.

Breakfast: Banana + Cacao oatmeal with frozen fruit + peanut butter + hemp seeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

Lunch: Avocado toast, cucumber + hummus, nuts, sweet potato fries.

Dinner: Kale, Black Bean, and Avocado bowl, and Anything-Goes Kale Salad (switching kale for spinach). + both with added tempeh.

Extra: these to-die-for croissants!

Final Price Tally

All in all, I spent 81.25 euros this week. So approximately 40 euros for each person. I don’t consider this too bad, although I typically come closer to 30 or 35 euros for this shop! I think the bulk nuts I had to stock up on again for milk pushed this week higher.

On our Thursday shop, we’ll probably spend 10 euros (5 euros per person), which will get us in at around 50 euros per person this week. 50 euros is my max, so at least we’ll have stayed under that.

Organic?

I would love for everything I put into my mouth to be organic. I believe in it’s benefits over conventional farming practices so much. However, my budget doesn’t always allow for it.

I know, I know…consistently buying and eating organic now could save on hundreds or thousands of dollars on health care costs in the future. I believe in this so much! Alas yet, I really can’t stretch my budget to eat 100% organic.

Right now, I aim for 90% organic with my produce (the farmers market really helps this!), and always buying the dirty dozen organic.

For dry goods, I try to make one product switch at a time. For example, I started with grains. The quinoa I bought this week is organic, and I’ll continue to buy that organic. In a few weeks, I’ll start buying, say, my peanut butter or oatmeal organic. I think making these small steps is the best way to long term consistency and sustainability. I started with the produce, and now I’m working through my dry goods!

Hope you all enjoyed! I plan to do this as a weekly series, and I think it will be a really interesting experience to document what I buy, what I’m making, and what I spend to see if there are any patterns or habits I can deduce.


Have a Beautiful Weekend

Happy Saturday, everyone! We’re on day nine (10?) of continuous rain here in Amsterdam, but I’m not letting that cramp my weekend. I have farmers market, hot yoga, spring cleaning, baking, afternoon tea, and reading on my agenda. And I’m dreaming of the sun shining through my windows some time soon, like in the photo above…

Here are some weekend links for you:

The dough for these goodies is chilling in the refrigerator as I type. If they turn out well, expect a blog post!

I’m currently reading this book and love the raw authenticity. The focus is on how every body, and spine in particular, is too different for us to be striving for “perfect” form in yoga. It feels especially applicable to me given my injuries. I’ll do a more thorough write-up once I’ve read more!

My sister brought these when she visited from America, and I’m so glad she left them for me to finish! No shells, roasted, and the perfect amount of sea salt. My go-to snack this week.

I’ve been loving the mindbodygreen podcast for awhile. Episode #92 on brain health is a must listen.

I discovered a wonderful new vegan Youtube channel. Always feels like I hit the jackpot with a ton of new content and recipes to digest!

Thoroughly impressed by this. I’ve been testing for a few months after coming across startling research describing the prevalence of magnesium deficiency. It seems to be helping my sleep and anxiety. A win in my eyes!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!


Vegan Guide to London!

I lived in London from August 2017 to June 2018, and Let. Me. Tell. You. I spent probably 50% of my savings for graduate school on vegan restaurants. And I don’t regret a penny of it! (It certainly helped that I lived in a box with my partner to pay probably the cheapest rent one can find in London – alas, priorities!)

With the huge chunk of change I shelled out in those 11 months, I’m designating myself a “boots on the ground” expert in all things vegan in and around London . . . with the slight disclaimer that London is BIG and London is AMAZING for vegans. So, I’ve probably missed a worthy restaurant or two, but these were definitely my favorite.

Black Cat

This hole in the wall deep in East London is far and away my favorite vegan place in the city, with respect to its prices and food. It’s a community run venture and the vibe is incredibly laid back and authentic. The menu changes daily (open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner), but they have a few standing items. Of those, their signature burger and chickpea pancake are to-die-for – pictured below!

Vegetable/Chickpea Pancake
Signature Burger
Falafel Bowl
Spaghetti + Garlic Bread

For filling portions and awesome flavor, I highly recommend Black Cat! Although it’s buried deeper in East London, it’s simple to take a bus from Angel or Shoreditch, or the Overground into Hackney Downs or Hackney Central.

Essential Vegan

I went to Essential Vegan a bit more often than I’d like to admit! So much so it became a joke between my partner and I, and we even laughed about it with the owners. We were definitely their best customers. However, take one bite of their delicious lasagne or cheese balls and you’ll know why I couldn’t stay away!

Essential Vegan is Brazilian inspired vegan food, and the owners are from Brazil, resulting in amazingly authentic and loved food. I feel like restaurants can so often leave you walking away feeling like you ingested too much oil or salt (even vegan ones!), but never Essential Vegan. It always tastes 100% homemade with simple ingredients – the kitchen is open from the dining room so you can watch your meal get made!

My personal favorite was the lasange and rizoles. Their mains switch out daily, so it’s always a surprise what you’ll be able to order. A few other notable items – the soup of the day, cheeseballs (as mentioned above), tofu salad, and cheesy quiche. My mouth is watering just thinking about them!

Lasagne
Salad + Cheesy Quiche + Cheese Balls
Soup of the Day

Located right in the heart of Shoreditch, this one can’t be missed.

The Canvas

If you couldn’t tell already, I lived in East London, and Shoreditch to be more specific – hence the plethora of restaurants there. But, East London is such an awesome place for vegans. It’s a more hipster and bohemian part of the city, catering to a younger crowd. So maybe, whether I lived there or not, these would be all East London restaurants anyway! I digress…

The Canvas is another community centered restaurant (catching the East London vibe here?) that is 100% vegan (they transitioned to this while I lived there!) and puts on amazing events for the community – think yoga, inspiring talks, and movie nights.

Since this was right down the street from my apartment, I found myself here often grabbing avocado toast for breakfast, or one of the many options for a quick lunch. Also, their dessert/To-Go bar deserves a notable mention of its own! Incredibly creative and something new everyday, it was so hard to turn down their delicious cakes and cupcakes.

Tofish & Chips

Avocado Toast
Mac and Cheese
Dessert + To-Go Bar

Located a short walk away from Shoreditch Overground or Aldgate East station. Card only! No cash.

The Gallery

Lo and behold, another East London gem! The Gallery is more tucked away into East London, similar to Black Cat, and located a short walk from Bethanal Green station. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I was so happy this was only a 20 minute walk/8 minute bus ride from my school!

The Gallery has more standing items on their menu, which is good if you like to know what to expect. Personal favorites are their Chile Cheese Fries (filling enough for a main), any of their fresh pressed juices, or their pesto gnocchi!

Side note – one of the main employees here (hope he still works there!) has AWESOME taste in music. My partner and I were always bopping away whenever we ate here. It’s a really cozy yet fun and funky cafe.

Pesto Gnocchi
Tofu Satay Salad
Fresh pressed juices

Mildreds

Mildreds is a more typical, popular vegan restaurant with multiple locations around London, but just because it’s found commercial success does in no way mean they sacrifice on taste or freshness! I’ve personally only ever been to their location in Hackney (their one in central had an hours upon hours long waiting list whenever I tried to pop in). If you plan on visiting, I suggest getting there early on the weekends, or going on a more off day or time than peak lunch and dinner.

It’s pretty clear why they are so successful and popular! Though not 100% vegan, they offer a ton of choices, and I’ve never been disappointed. Expect your more traditional restaurant dishes (chips + guacamole, burger options, long dessert list) with an upscale and fresh twist.

Apologies – can’t remember the names of these dishes!

Cook Daily

An Asian Fusion pop-up shop that was WILDLY successful in Boxpark’s Shoreditch location, and what I just learned on my most recent trip back to London – moved to a permanent location in South Hackney. This place deserves it!

If you go, I have one recommendation above them all: Pad Thai with Puffed Chick’n. Now, I’ve had a lot of good vegan Pad Thai in my life, but this one takes the cake on punch, richness, and flavor.

100% vegan and offering 15+ Asian Fusion dishes plus the best spring rolls you’ll ever taste, Cook Daily was one of the first vegan spots I found and fell in love with in London.

Pad Thai

If Pad Thai isn’t your thing, I’ve never gone wrong with their other options either. Take their success as a hint that this place isn’t to be missed.

Paper & Cup

Just down the street from Essential Vegan is a tiny coffee shop that sells the most delicious vegan croissants – Paper & Cup. When I first moved to London and discovered these beauties, they only sold them two (maybe one?) day a week, much to my dismay when I found out on an “off” day! However, I think they took note in their popularity – or maybe the fact that my partner and I would buy up their entire supply if we saw them in stock – and have started offering them every day. Yay!

Paper & Cup actually outsources these cinnamon rolls to a local lady who makes these as a business. As a result, you can taste the homemade flavor.

Itadaki Zen

In my opinion, finding a decent vegan Japanese restaurant is hard! I’m not looking for simple avocado and cucumber rolls. I’m looking for reinvented dishes with flavor and zest. Itadaki Zen checks all of these boxes! My only regret here was finding this gem only a month before moving away.

Located a short walk away from Kings Cross station, it’s a very tiny restaurant! From my memory, I’d say five tables in total. We didn’t make a reservation (rookie mistake) but were fortunate enough to get there right at opening and snag the only unreserved table with promises to eat in 30 minutes or less! Totally worth it.

We ordered two bento boxes and this fried tofu to start. Delicious! With more time (and a bigger budget…) I’d love to go back and order more.

Tibits

Tibits was another early find in my move to London, and I have to give credit to my partner for taking me here for my birthday! It’s unique in that it’s an upscale buffet and you pay by weight. Tuesdays are 100% vegan, so those were always the days we attended (but on other days they still have a good selection of vegan options). Located a short walk from Oxford Street Station, it’s my preferable vegan spot when in Central.

Yorica

Yorica is unlike any other vegan ice cream place I’ve tried! A super funky vibe filled with a ton of (rice-based) vegn soft serve options – and sprinkles galore. The toppings are what make it the most memorable. Located closest to Tottenham Court Road Station.

Hope you enjoy!


Why I Do What I Do | FAQ!

As a long time blog enthusiast, I never enjoyed finding a new and exciting blog and having to hunt down an FAQ on the author. I enjoy connections through social media the most when I feel like I have a decent understanding of the person on the other side of the screen, so this is me saying “Hi!” as my first blog post!

First, the basics. My name is Coco, I am in my mid-twenties, an expat living in (and loving!) Amsterdam, and I work in the tech industry by day. Wait…hold up! Tech industry? And you have a health and wellness blog? And you’re an aspiring yoga teacher? My interests have always been hugely varied growing up, and it never seem to wane as I matured. Hence, the dichotomy!

My favorite city in the whole world!

However, I know with yoga and intuitive, healthy eating I have found my passion – and so much more. It’s a way of life for me that goes far beyond the duties of a job. I feel called to share the insight and body peace I have found through this lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong. It was not always this way! As with most teenage girls, I had a youth fraught with an unhealthy food relationship. I agonized over my body image and yo-yo-ed in weight, and I constantly beat myself up over it. On the surface, it looked like I ate “healthily”, but depending on the season, I was either eating way too much processed food or not enough food at all.

In my early twenties, there were two significant events that flipped my body image and eating habits on their head. First, I was in a traumatic car accident (hit by a delivery truck going 50mph) that left me nearly immobile with pain for months – debilitating neck and back pain, intense migraines, blurred vision, limb numbness, and more. It happened months before I was due to start graduate school in London, and I suddenly wished I could turn the clock back on every moment I had taken my previously healthy body for granted. Chronic pain is a bitch. Chronic pain when you’re 22 almost felt like a death sentence.

Thankfully, I didn’t give up and cave to the pain. I did have to massively adjust my life and I still massively adjust my life to this day. But I attended rigorous physical therapy, took up gentle yoga to relax and re-strengthen my tense and torn muscles, and I started thinking deeply and introspectively about how I could best preserve my health and mobility given the circumstances.

Enter in significant event number two: a plant-based diet. I read Michael Gregor’s famous book “How Not To Die” around the same time, and it was the final straw in shifting my mindset. I no longer looked at food as something that was either going to make me fat or skinny. I looked at is a source of nutrition, fuel, and immense healing properties. I began asking myself the question, “is this going to aid in my recovery and prolong a healthy and active lifestyle?”. If the answer was no, it got ditched!

The same happened with exercise. I was an avid runner before my accident, and in the space of a second, I was left with an injury that prevented me from running for 1.5 years after! Yes, 1.5 years! The intense movement caused pain from my lower back through my neck. This is where I rediscovered yoga from the advice of a few close friends. Moving my body gently has become the single most quick way to alleviate an aching back or tense neck. Kinked my neck in a weird way and feeling pain? 20 minutes of yoga. Back pain after finishing up my work day? 20 minute walk around the block.

The chronic pain never made me want something so badly as a “normal” life again, and I’m so happy that I found food and exercise as my “medicine”. I learned to treat my body kindly, and I’ve never looked back!

My goal with Coco’s Wellness is to educate and open minds to the way we should be treating our bodies – not as a number on the scale or some vehicle to get me from bed to work to couch to bed again. We’re so much more than that, and I don’t want it to take a traumatic accident for more people to realize!

Our bodies do so much for us, and I am huge advocate for holistic, functional health and medicine to keep them in top-notch shape and up to the task of doing what we love. Everything from exercise to work to travel, all the way to climbing a flight of stairs to learning a new language to chasing after a toddler. Ultimately, long and happy lives! I want to be the 90-year-old still going to yoga class and not forgetting a single persons’ birthday or name!

I plan to share information on a plant-based diet, recipes, non-toxic products, yoga, holistic medicine, and everything in-between. Thanks for coming along!